Poverty and Children

Poverty and Children

September 27, 2010... Recently released census data for 2009 shows a dramatic rate of increase in child poverty. In this short update, Child Poverty Rises Dramatically in Most States, the Economic Policy Institute reports the newest evidence that the ecomomic downturn is affecting children.  The report is short; read to the second part for data about children.

Today the United States remains in recession, and over fourteen million children, 19% of children in the United States, live in poverty. Rising unemployment among parents is a primary contributor to child poverty, although many of America's poor children live in working families, where parents work at low-paying jobs that do not produce enough income to lift the family above the federal poverty level.  Today in the United States, poverty is higher in some demographic groups than others:

  • 37 percent of Native American children are poor;
  • 34.7 percent of Black children are poor;
  • 30.6 percent of Hispanic children are poor;
  • 14.6 percent of Asian children are poor; and
  • 10.6 percent of White children are poor.

Across the United States growing income segregation compounds the injustices of racial segregation.

According to the Coalition on Human Needs, "In just one year, the number of people in households that sometimes lacked the money for enough nutritious food rose from 36 million to 49 million—the highest number on record. Among them were 17 million children—4 million more in 2008 than in 2007."

Poor children are too often hungry, and they too frequently lack access to primary medical care. Poor children in America are isolated by lack of access to transportation; by segregated housing patterns; by lack of quality child care and early education; and by isolation in under-funded, segregated and highly stressed schools.  Poor children are exposed too frequently to violence.  Too many poor children drop out of school and end up in jail instead of in college.  Many experts worry that children born poor in America today have less opportunity to escape poverty than have earlier generations of Americans.

New UCC Resources

August 2011:  The 2012 Justice & Witness Ministries Message on Public Education explores the connection of poverty to school achievement.

Summer 2011: Poverty and Public Education web page

New resource for church discussion:  A Christian Social Contact for Our Times

   The Situation of Children in this Recession is a short resource provided by the UCC Children's Staff Table.

 Impact of the Economic Crisis on Children

  • November 29, 2011: NY Times reports, Lines Grow Long for Free School Meals, Thanks to Economy.
  • November, 2011: For a Homeless Child, a Long Ride to 4th Grade.
  • February 10, 2011:  Katha Pollitt, writing, "It Takes a Village, Not a Tiger" for The Nation, points to poverty, today's invisible and rarely mentioned issue, as the challenge to high achievement at school.  Writing for a middle class audience, Pollitt reminds her readers that family poverty undermines parenting and affects children.  She warns about the blindness of privilege. 
  • May 13, 2020, Katha Pollitt in The Nation: What Ever Happened to Welfare Mothers?
  • New York Times documents rise of hunger across the United States in 2008 and 2009 and the role of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), once called food stamps, to fill the gaps for families.  The NY Times provides an interactive map which will let you examine hunger state by state and county by county.  According to the NY Times, "In the Mississippi River cities of St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans, half of the children or more receive food stamps."
  • April 2009...Have you wondered how the economic recession across our country is affecting children?  Bob Herbert, columnist for the NY Times, reflects on "Children in Peril."


Here are excellent resources available to prepare your congregation to advocate for the elimination of child poverty.

Section Menu