Child Poverty Rates Double, Prompting Legislative Action

United States Capitol from House of Representatives© Matt Anderson / Getty Images / Canva

In response to the alarming increase in child poverty rates in the U.S., Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) have this week introduced the Child Poverty Reduction Act. This legislation aims to cut child poverty in half in five years and implement an accountability framework to ensure the achievement of this goal.

The child poverty rate more than doubled from 2021 to 2022, rising from 5.2% to 12.4%, following the expiration of federal investments like the expanded Child Tax Credit. This sharp increase has prompted swift legislative action.

Senator Casey, Chair of the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families, expressed the urgency of the situation. He emphasized the economic stability and security for children and their families that the Child Poverty Reduction Act could provide, particularly for the over 15% of children in Pennsylvania living in poverty.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown highlighted the effectiveness of supporting policies like the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. These policies can help millions of families lift themselves out of poverty and join the middle class.

Senator Baldwin from Wisconsin stressed the long-term effects of child poverty, noting its impact on health outcomes, risk of homelessness, food insecurity, and unemployment. She affirmed that the proposed legislation would provide every child with an equal opportunity to succeed and lead a healthy life.

The Child Poverty Reduction Act aims to emulate the success of the United Kingdom and Canada, which both used poverty reduction targets to halve child poverty. The bill also advocates for the executive branch to monitor progress towards the target and charges the non-partisan National Academy of Sciences with analyzing how federal policies contribute to poverty reduction each year.

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Companion legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Danny Davis (D-IL-7) and supported by U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA-12), Sara Jacobs (D-CA-51), and Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11).

The proposed legislation has been welcomed by child advocacy groups. Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children, highlighted the urgency of the situation, calling for Congressional leaders to pass the Child Poverty Reduction Act without delay. Miriam Calderón, Chief Policy Officer at ZERO TO THREE, also applauded the commitment to cutting poverty in half, emphasizing the profound implications of poverty on a child’s health and future success.

The full text of the Child Poverty Reduction Act can be found here.

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