ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Kids in High-Poverty Communities: 5 Ways It Affects Us All

Post written by Laura Speer, associate director for Policy Reform and Data at the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Success should be in the grasp of all children, no matter where they live. However, the opportunities available to children based on their neighborhood vary dramatically across the United States. For the 8 million U.S. children living in high-poverty neighborhoods, critical resources for their healthy growth and development—including high-performing schools, quality medical care, and safe outdoor spaces—are often out of reach. The KIDS COUNT project at the Annie E. Casey Foundation tracks the well-being of children and families in the United States and provides information for data-based advocacy. This means being the go-to place for data on children and families, and we do that by partnering with local child-advocacy organizations to track data on children at the national, state, and local levels.

Most recently, we looked at new data available at the community level and found five major data points that highlight the wide reach of high-poverty areas and the impact they have on us all.

  1. There are more children than ever living in high-poverty areas. Nearly 8 million U.S. children live in high-poverty areas—about 1.6 million more since 2000, a 25 percent increase.
  2. Eleven percent of the nation's children are growing up in areas where at least 30 percent of residents live below the federal poverty level—about $22,000 per year for a family of four.
  3. Nearly all states saw the number of children in high-poverty neighborhoods climb over the last decade. States with the highest rates were Mississippi (23 percent), New Mexico (20 percent), and Louisiana (18 percent).
  4. Among the 50 largest U.S. cities, Detroit (67 percent), Cleveland (57 percent), and Miami (49 percent) had the highest rates.
  5. Research shows that children who grow up in high-poverty neighborhoods are at much greater risk for health and developmental challenges in almost every aspect of their lives, from education to their chances for economic success as adults. These challenges exist regardless of their own family's income.

The prosperity of communities across the country depends on their ability to foster the health and well-being of the next generation. A number of approaches can improve the chances of success for families in high-poverty communities, making these areas better places to raise children, help families secure jobs, access services beyond their neighborhoods, and enable them to move to neighborhoods with better opportunities if they desire. We included some of the most promising policies and practices in our report.

KIDS COUNT - Data Snapshot on High-Poverty Communities

The latest KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot on Children Living in America's High Poverty Communities is available, along with data in our data center for the states and the 50 largest cities. Visit the data center to get this and much more data on children and families where you live.

Laura Speer is associate director for Policy Reform and Data at the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, Md. The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private, charitable foundation dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States. This article originally appeared on Wikiprogress' The ProgBlog.

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