The rate of children living in poverty this year will climb to nearly 22%, the highest rate in two decades, according to an analysis by the non-profit Foundation for Child Development. Nearly 17% of children were living in poverty in 2006, before the recession began.
The foundation's Child and Youth Well-Being Index tracks 28 key statistics about children, such as health insurance coverage, parents' employment, infant mortality and preschool enrollment.
The report projects that the percentage of children living in families with an "insecure" source of food has risen from about 17% in 2007 to nearly 18% in 2010, an increase of 750,000 children. Up to 500,000 children may be homeless this year, living either in shelters or places not meant for habitation. . . . .
. . .The recession could wipe out virtually all economic progress for children since the Foundation for Child Development began analyzing data in 1975, says foundation president Ruby Takanishi. The U.S. Census Bureau says nearly 19% of families with children had incomes below the federal poverty level of $22,025 for a family of four in 2008, the latest year available.
Researchers note that their projections have limitations. Complete statistics from government and other sources were available only through 2006. Duke University researcher Kenneth Land, who coordinated the report, had to estimate some measures for 2007 to 2009. Land projected results for 2010 through 2012.
Children could suffer long after the recession ends, Palfrey says. A pregnant woman with poor nutrition is more likely to deliver prematurely, for example, increasing the risks that her child will have medical problems. "The consequences of poverty build on themselves," Palfrey says, "so that the outcomes can be felt for years to come."