|Children in Poverty
Approximately 1 in 5 children ages 0–17 live in poverty. This rate has steadily increased in recent years. In 2000-2001, the child poverty rate was 16 percent. By 2007, it was 18 percent, then 19 percent in 2008, and 21 percent in 2009. This significant increase follows the national economic downturn. In families headed by a female with no spouse present, the poverty rate for related children is 44 percent. The rate in single male-headed households is less than half that at 20.5 percent, and for married couple families, 11 percent. A significant racial/ethnic disparity exists as well.
The 2008 U.S. Census Bureau's poverty threshold is an annual income of $22,025 for a family of four. One of the largest federal programs to address poverty among children is the National School Lunch Program, which serves nearly 32 million students per school day. Recent, new guidelines promise improvements to the program, focusing on better nutrition while reducing saturated and trans fats and sodium, while increasing whole grains and fresh produce. However, the guidelines can and should do more, including reducing pesticide exposure through organic foods.
Children in poverty are, overall, more vulnerable to environmental, educational, health, and safety risks. Young children especially are more likely to have cognitive, behavioral, and socioemotional difficulties. Over their lifetime, they are more likely to complete fewer years of school and experience more years of unemployment.
(Source: Child Health USA Report & Federal Interagency Forum on Child & Family Statistics)