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Summary of Child Poverty Reduction Act

One in five children in the US is living in poverty, and children continue to experience higher rates of poverty than any other age group in the US. Of all the people living in poverty in this country in 2013, 32 percent of them were children, yet children only comprise 23 percent of the total population. Poverty is a particularly serious problem for children, who are exposed to toxic stress and suffer negative effects for the rest of their lives after living in poverty for even a short time. Children in poverty experience increased rates of infant mortality, higher rates of low birth weight and subsequent health and developmental problems such as chronic disease. They also have worse educational outcomes with poor academic achievement and lower rates of high school graduation. Beyond consequences for individual children, child poverty negatively affects the entire nation through increased expenditures on criminal justice and healthcare and through lost revenue and economic output. Yet there remains a lack of awareness and government accountability to address the significant problem of child poverty, and proposed solutions are too often politicized and fall along partisan lines.

The Child Poverty Reduction Act (H.R.2048)would establish a national target to reduce the number of children living in poverty in America by half in ten years and eliminate child poverty in 20years. For accomplish this target, it institute a process to identify the most effective interventions:

·       Charging a Federal Interagency Working Group on Reducing Child Poverty with developing a plan including recommendations to improve the coordination and efficiency of existing initiatives, as well as recommendations for new legislation required to reach the target.

·       Requesting the National Academy of Sciences to assist in the development of a plan by researching the societal costs of child poverty, the role of metrics in assessing the effects of child poverty, and the performance of anti-poverty programs, as well as make non-partisan recommendations on how to reduce child poverty;

·       Tasking the working group with monitoring progress toward the target at the federal and state levels.

Also, this target is not unprecedented.

·        In 1999, the United Kingdom established a national child poverty target, which united the Conservative and Labor parties. Measured in U.S. terms, the UK’s Child Poverty Target and resulting policy changes cut Britain’s child poverty rate by 50 percent during the effort’s first decade (1999-2009). By contrast, the U.S. child poverty rate increased by 23 percent, from 16.2 percent in 2000 to 19.9 percent in 2014.

Cutting child poverty should be a top priority for our country. It is not only the right thing to do, but it makes smart economic sense. Child poverty costs the US more than $500 billion a year, or almost 4 percent of gross domestic product.

A national child poverty target will serve as a rallying cry for the government and other stakeholders to take concrete steps to meet this target. It institutionalizes the goal of reducing child poverty, and serves as an impetus for bipartisan public debate around the most effective interventions needed to achieve this target.

Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2015 (HR2408)supported by 250 organizations, including:

First Focus Campaign for Children

American Academy of Nursing

American Federation of Teachers

Lutheran Services in America

National Council of Jewish Women

National Organization for Women

Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

The Salvation Army National Headquarters

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