"We call on President Obama and America’s political leaders in every party at every level to mount a long overdue, unwavering, and persistent war to prevent and eliminate child poverty and finish the task President Johnson and Dr. King began. Two- and three-year-olds have no politics and we must reject any leaders who for any reason play political football with the lives of millions of our children and our nation’s future. If America is to lead in the 21st century world, we must reset our economic and moral compass." -- Marian Wright Edelman, at left, founder of the Children's Defense Fund, writing in the preface to the bleak report on "The State of America's Children," released today.
January 24, 2014: The Children's Defense Fund has released "The State of America's Children: 2014," a portrait of how well we take care of our children fifty years after the initiation of the war on poverty. And it's not a pretty picture: In a country where the gross domestic product is $15.7 trillion, 16.1 million children live in poverty -- and 7.1 million of those children are "extremely poor" (living at less than half of $11,746/year for a family of four).
Further details fill in a feudal national landscape:
*In 2012, more than two-thirds of poor children lived in families with at least one working family member: employment in America does not guarantee an income above the poverty level.
*The average wealth of white households (2011) is over $110K/year; for Latino families -- less than $8,000 a year, and African American families, less than $6,500/year.
*Over 1.2 million children who attend public school are homeless -- a 73% increase since the beginning, nearly six years ago, of the Great Recession.
*Less than half of the nation's 3- and 4-year-olds are in preschool. Nearly 60% of all children (80% of Black and nearly 75% of Latino) cannot compute or read at grade level in (the tested) fourth and eighth grades.
There are six people in our family.
But only five sit down to dinner.
That’s because my mom doesn’t eat.
She wants to make sure we have enough food.
— Vanessa, age 6
*75% of American youth (17-24) cannot qualify for military service because of poor literacy, poor health, or prior incarceration.
*89% of poor children who qualify for free- and reduced-price school meals did not receive meals through the Summer Food Service Program in 2012.
A shopping cart was my first crib.
My sister and me.
Our home was on the street.
Finally under a roof.
Two beds for six.
No is always on our minds. No running, no jumping, no fun.
— Shanika, age 5
*Guns kill or injure a child or teen every 30 minutes: three times more American children have been killed by guns on American soil in the last 50 years than U.S. soldiers who were killed in action during the same time period.