In the United States today, children represent the group that is most in need. In 2018, 1 in 6 children lived in poverty, equating to 11.9 million children. The child poverty rate of 16% is nearly 1.5 times higher than that of adults and twice as high as that of seniors. The following are a few organizations seeking to help children in need.
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula
Founded in 1958, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula (BGCP) is a Silicon Valley-based organization that provides at-risk young people with a safe place to build positive peer and adult relationships. Through this venture, young people have an opportunity to connect with adult role models and to participate in a variety of activities. After graduating from high school, most BGCP clients find entry-level manufacturing jobs, which provide them with careers that enable them to support their families.
CollegeSpring aims to close the test preparation gap by helping students from families with low incomes to develop greater confidence, providing them with all the support and test prep they need to raise their score and enroll in college. College Spring’s test prep programs help students to boost their SAT scores, significantly improving their chances of gaining admission to college.
YMCA Silicon Valley
Active across the United States and around the world, the YMCA supports young people and their families. In addition, it seeks to strengthen entire communities. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the YMCA has kept facilities open, providing young people with a safe refuge and a sense of normalcy, while providing vital childcare, enabling key frontline workers to fulfill their duties. In Mountain View, California, YMCA Silicon Valley partnered with El Camino Hospital to provide essential workers with childcare in an effort to keep children safe and entertained, while simultaneously enabling frontline medical personnel to deliver life-saving care to the local community.
Children International provides long-term, customized programs, guiding children through the first two decades of their lives with the overall goal of putting an end to generational poverty. The nonprofit invests in children, helping them to obtain an education and imparting in them the confidence and life skills necessary to break free from the cycle of poverty.
Save the Children
Save the Children implements a variety of programs across the United States with the goal of assisting the country’s hardest-to-reach children and helping them to realize their full potential. Since its inception in 1932, the organization has supported isolated children in need. Currently, it seeks to help young people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Identifying Child Poverty
Children are considered poor where their family’s income falls below the Federal Poverty Line. Currently, this stands at $25,701 for a family of four, which amounts to less than $70 a day, $2,142 a month, or $494 a week.
Child Poverty Statistics
Child poverty is related to race and ethnicity, as well as age. 73% of children in need in the United States are children of color. In the African American community, nearly 30% of children are considered to be underserved. Of Alaska Native and American Indian children, more than 29% live below the poverty line, as compared to more than 23% of Hispanic children.
Nearly 50% of children in need live in extreme poverty. Analysts estimate that increased crime and worsened health stemming from childhood poverty cost the United States 3.5% of the GDP, equating to approximately $700 billion every year.
The Impact of Child Poverty
The strain of childhood poverty impinges on children’s development from a young age, creating opportunity gaps that in many cases last a lifetime, impacting not only the nation’s economy, but society as a whole.
Children from struggling families are less likely to excel academically, and more inclined to drop out of high school. Moreover, they face an increased risk of unemployment in adulthood and subsequent economic hardship. They are also more likely to become involved in the criminal justice system.
Government assistance programs help to curb the impact of poverty on American families, children, and the economy as a whole. In 2018, the Earned Income Tax Credit scheme and other refundable tax credits enabled 4.7 million children to be lifted out of poverty. In the same year, the families of 1 million children benefited from housing subsidies, and 800,000 received school lunches under a national program. Moreover, 497,000 children received Supplemental Security Income; and 1.4 million children benefited from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The first step in ending child poverty is to help able-bodied parents into employment, enabling them to find jobs that provide a sufficient income to support their families.
In some ways, poverty in the United States may look different to poverty in other countries. Nevertheless, poverty in the United States is more common than in many other developed nations. In America today, children from families with low incomes face distinct challenges, leaving them with preventable health problems or struggling to access a quality education.