Indicator List for Poverty

Poverty

Poverty poses both immediate and long-term threats to children’s development. Child Trends monitors the prevalence of child poverty over time, and its impact on child outcomes. In all of our research areas, from early childhood to youth development, we examine differences in child well-being by family income. We also evaluate the effects of programs and policies aimed at children and families in poverty.

Our DataBank provides annual updates on the number and percent of children living under key poverty thresholds.

Indicator List for Poverty

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Child Recipients of Welfare(AFDC/TANF)

The number of children receiving welfare benefits has declined by more than half between 1996, the year in which federal welfare reform was implemented, and 2012. The percentage of children in poverty who receive TANF benefits has fallen by nearly two-thirds.

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Child Support Receipt

Among custodial parents with a child support award, the percentage who received full payment of all support owed them in the previous year increased from 37 percent in 1994 to 41 percent in 2009.  

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Children in Poverty

In 2010, more than one in five children (22 percent) lived in families with incomes below the poverty line, the highest level since 1993; by 2012, this proportion had fallen only slightly. Black and Hispanic children, children living in single-mother families, and children under five are even more likely to be poor.

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Educational Attainment

Among 25- to 29-year olds, the proportion who have attained a high school education, some college, or a bachelor’s degree are all rising, according to long-term trends. Despite progress, in 2012, only a third of this population had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

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Food Insecurity

In 2012, more than one in five U.S. children (22 percent) lived in households that were food-insecure at some point during the year, and 1.3 percent experienced the most severe level of need, where food intake is reduced and regular eating patterns are disrupted.

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Head Start

While enrollment in Head Start increased slightly between the 2006-07 and the 2010-11 program years, this growth has not kept up with increases in child poverty, and the latest data show a decline in enrollment .

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Health Care Coverage

The proportion of children with health insurance coverage for any part of the year increased modestly from 89 percent in 2000 to 91 percent in 2012. However, during this period, the share of children with private insurance decreased from 71 to 60 percent, while the proportion of children covered under Medicaid increased from 21 to 36 percent.

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Homeless Children and Youth

While estimating the homeless population is difficult, about 1.1 million students in the U.S. were homeless at the start of the the 2010-2011 school year.  Children not enrolled in school,  although their numbers are less easily measured, push the total number of homeless children and youth significantly higher.