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Poverty Research Says A Lot About Necessary Changes

Too Small to Fail
By Too Small to Fail

This week, the Census Bureau released its annual poverty data, which showed no statistically significant change in poverty during the past year. While this is better news than if numbers had increased, it still means that millions of families in the United States continue to live with their basic needs unmet, and have diminished chances of helping their children succeed later in life.

Today there are over 16 million children living in poverty in America. Poverty strikes children at higher rates than the rest of the population – 21.8 percent versus 15 percent, respectively. Latino and African-American children continue to experience poverty at more than twice the rates of white and Asian children, and their families continue to earn lower wages and have less health care. Since the effects of poverty have been shown to directly impact the physical, emotional and cognitive development of children, and linger well into adulthood, these numbers represent a substantial threat to our communities and our nation’s future.

While there are no easy solutions, there are efforts underway to help those living in poverty escape the cycle by focusing efforts on tackling many of its ill-effects – like obesity, low quality child care options, and lack of support. Certain community programs are improving the chances for lifelong success for children in poverty. One example is Raising a Reader, which is helping young children at all socio-economic levels lay the groundwork for a strong educational future.

There are other concrete steps that we can take to help families escape poverty, including supporting working parents through family-friendly workplace policies, and by providing useful resources for parents and caregivers to improve their children’s health and well-being. The research tells us that poverty can be overcome, and we can build a stronger country, if families are given the space and resources to raise healthy, educated children.

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