GIRLThirty-seven percent of African American children in the United States are living in poverty, a rate that is among the highest in our nation. For the first time in our history, the number of poor African American children may exceed the total number of poor white children, even though white children far outnumber African American children in the general population. Moreover, black childhood poverty is more concentrated in high poverty communities – according to the Century Foundation, 28 percent of black children live in high poverty neighborhoods.

Being poor and living among other poor residents in neighborhoods of concentrated disadvantage compounds the problems of poverty and often results in life sentences of poor physical and mental health, high levels of stress, inadequate housing, low academic achievement from school systems lacking resources and qualified educators and administrators, significantly higher rates of crime and violence, food insecurity, and fewer employment and economic opportunities handed down to future generations.

In our new fact sheet, my colleague Karen Howard and I further describe the unique problem of black child poverty in the United States and provide a list of recommendations for how lawmakers can address this growing crisis.

And yesterday, Congress took action toward one of these recommendations – Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), all First Focus Champions for Children, took a step toward reducing child poverty by introducing the Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2015 (S. 2224), which would establish a national child poverty target in the United States.

It’s a companion to H.R. 2408, introduced in the House back in May by Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD).

This legislation would set a national goal of cutting child poverty in half in ten years and eliminating it in 20 years, including cutting the high rates of poverty among black, Latino, and Native American children.

A target is needed to serve as a rallying cry for the government and other stakeholders to take concrete steps to meet this target. It institutionalizes the goal of reducing child poverty, and serves as an impetus for public debate around the most effective interventions needed to achieve this target, such as those that reduce racial disparities and improve opportunity for those children living in high poverty communities.

As Senator Casey said during yesterday’s Senate Finance hearing on welfare and poverty, we aren’t doing enough in the United States on child poverty.

Child poverty is unacceptably high, and children of color experience chronic poverty that is often passed down to the next generation. Every child deserves a chance to thrive. Let’s give them that chance by establishing a child poverty target to meaningfully reduce poverty. Over 250 organizations nationwide already support creating a national child poverty target. To learn more and add your support, visit here.

Senate Champions for Children take action to cut child poverty and reduce racial disparities: v/ @Campaign4Kids
Tweet this now.

Do you share our vision of making America a better place to be a child and raise a family? Then you should be a part of The Children’s Network, a movement led by individuals, non-profit organizations, and businesses committed to the health, education, and well-being of children in the United States.Become a part of the network and receive exclusive materials, updates, and opportunities to take action on behalf of our children. 

First Focus is a bipartisan organization dedicating to making children and families the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. You can support our work by making a donation or joining The Children’s Network to receive updates and action alerts.