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January 01, 2005

Ending Child Poverty

by Deborah Cutler-Ortiz

Poverty matters. It matters to families, communities, and our economy: it creates a constellation of problems, including poor health, homelessness, limited educational resources, and limited prospects for advancement. For many, employment has not been a path out of poverty. Two-thirds of poor families include at least one worker.

In the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nation, nearly 13 million children (one in six) live in poverty. While per capita wealth has nearly doubled over the last thirty years, America’s children have not fully benefited. In fact, the number of children living below the poverty line has increased every year since 2000.

Child poverty is neither inevitable nor unavoidable. It reflects our nation’s choices. Protecting the wellbeing of our children is a basic obligation that adults must embrace and public policies must promote, but the sad truth is that America tolerates persistent child poverty.

We must eliminate child poverty. We must create policies that increase the minimum wage, ensure education and training opportunities for those needing job skills, and expand a safety net system that truly provides security to those most vulnerable.

Deborah Cutler-Ortiz

Deborah Cutler-Ortiz is the director of the Family Income & Jobs division at the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). The CDF works to increase the minimum wage and create jobs that provide benefits such as health care, child care, and educational assistance.