War on Poverty

poverty-banner22014 marks the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty, which launched some of the nation’s landmark anti-poverty programs. While the child poverty rate today is little different from the rate in 1964, research suggests that absent these initiatives, it would be even higher.

The U.S. has changed a lot in 50 years, and so have the causes and nature of American poverty.  Today, children are the poorest Americans. For many parents, wages have stagnated. An increasingly knowledge-based economy is leaving less-educated workers behind. More children are growing up with one parent. And our knowledge of the serious and often lasting effects of poverty on children has grown.

This new, younger face of poverty challenges us to explore existing and new approaches to breaking the cycle of poverty and to address the needs of children growing up poor. To inform these discussions, we’ve listed Child Trends publications dealing with issues of child poverty here, and indicators here. Below are some that we find most pertinent:

5 Ways Poverty Harms Children – This Child Trends 5 highlights ways child poverty is harmful, and why we must continue our efforts to end it.

Children Still Left Behind 50 Years after War on Poverty – This blog post suggests ways to reduce the child poverty rate.

Databank: Children in Poverty – This DataBank page presents trends in Child Poverty, including differences by age, race and Hispanic origin, and family structure.

A Fifteen-Year (1997-2012) Profile of Children’s Overall Health: National and State Estimates, by Family Income Level – For children, low income might mean low health.

The Youngest Americans: A Statistical Portrait of Infants and Toddlers in the United States – This report focuses on infants and toddlers, their parents, communities, and the resources that exist to support them. This generation is more diverse than any in recent history, yet it is characterized by multiple inequities.

When the Bough Breaks: The Effects of Homelessness on Young Children – This paper looks at the stressors faced by homeless children and lists implications for policy and practice.

Two Generations in Poverty: Status and Trends among Parents and Children in the United States, 2000-2010 – This research brief examines poverty data and trends over a decade, through a two-generation lens. (Please note that this brief was released in 2011, so the data are no longer current.)

Comparing the Official and Supplemental Poverty Measures: Five Observations – This one-page overview compares the official and supplemental poverty measures. (Please note that this brief was released in 2009, so the data are no longer current.)

Disparities in early learning and development: Lessons from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B)  – The data and analyses presented in this brief indicate that disparities in early learning and development are apparent in infancy, with the gap widening in toddlerhood.

Children in Poverty: Trends, Consequences, and Policy Options – This brief, which presents a statistical portrait of children in poverty, also highlights research on the consequences of poverty for children and suggests program and policy approaches that hold promise for decreasing poverty among low-income children and their families. (Please note that this brief was released in 2009, so the data are no longer current.)

The Strengths of Poor Families – This brief compares the strengths of poor and more affluent families. While poverty can cause harsh realities and issues in families, impoverished families still have strengths. (Please note that this brief was released in 2009, so the data are no longer current.)


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