“Child poverty is a choice,” advocate says

The recently introduced Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2023 creates a national commitment to cutting child poverty in half in five years and a framework for holding lawmakers accountable for achieving that goal.

Policy choices such as the expanded Child Tax Credit and other assistance successfully cut child poverty nearly in half in 2021. When those policies expired, child poverty more than doubled in one year, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2022, nearly 9 million children — or 12.4% of all U.S. children — lived in poverty, according to U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), a 7.2 percentage point increase over the previous year. Census figures estimate that refundable tax credits lifted 3.5 million children out of poverty in 2021.

“Let us be clear that child poverty is a choice,” said First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley. “Children are our country’s most valuable resource, yet we allowed child poverty to more than double in the U.S. in 2022. This is unacceptable when we know progress is possible. Investing in children improves their well-being now and in the future and supports the health of our nation. Setting an official goal of cutting child poverty in the U.S. in half within five years creates a mechanism to hold lawmakers accountable to address this important issue. First Focus Campaign for Children thanks Reps. Danny Davis, Barbara Lee, Gerry Connolly, and Sara Jacobs and Sens. Bob Casey, Tammy Baldwin, and Sherrod Brown for their continuous leadership and urges Congressional leaders to pass the Child Poverty Reduction Act without delay.”

First Focus Campaign for Children and its U.S. Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) have long supported establishing a national child poverty reduction target. In 2022, more than 100 organizations joined us on a letter to Congress urging members to create a target.

Find text of the Child Poverty Reduction Act (H.R. 5629/S. 2906) at this link.