There are too many children living in poverty. To understand the problem one must first look at the definition of poverty. The definition used by the government to benchmark a family’s economic struggle is clear-cut: A specific dollar amount for yearly income is used as a starting point for families of a given size in a given year, and if the family falls below that line they are considered to be living in poverty (Abner, Morris, & Raver, 2012). There are other ways poverty can be defined such as, “relative poverty”, “subjective poverty”, and “family self-sufficiency” (Abner, Morris, & Raver, 2012), However, for the purposes of this paper the definition of the government will be used. Over 16 million children in the United States live in families with incomes below the poverty level (NCCP, 2015). Out of all the children living in poverty only 12% are white, while 36% are African American and 33% are Hispanic. Immigrant families also have a greater chance of living in poverty than anyone else (NCCP, 2015). The number of children living in poverty and extreme poverty has increased since 2000 and immigrants are the most affected (NCCP, 2013). A large number of these children live in working families that play by the rules, however, they cannot escape poverty because they make minimum wage, which is 58.9% of the poverty level for a family of four (CDF, 2007).
There are many factors that cause poverty, among these are work rates, wages, family composition, education, and immigration. Very little progress has been made toward reducing poverty, and these “leading causes of poverty shows why trends in the economy,
POLICIES AFFECTING CHILDHOOD POVERTY 10
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... major contributor to many of the most serious social problems facing our nation,” this includes widening health and academic disparities.
Children living in poverty are more likely to not have access to quality, preventative health care and have more hospitalizations and deaths than those children who are not in poverty (Effect on Child, n.d.). Children born to mothers living in poverty have a greater chance of being premature and to have difficulties at birth due to exposure to toxins in poor neighborhoods, smoking or drug use of the mother, and lack of prenatal care (Özkan, 2010). Children born into poverty are more likely to have high lead levels and the disabilities that come from high lead levels (Effect on Child, n.d.). They are also more likely to have respiratory illnesses, dental problems and sensory impairment (Özkan, 2010). Miller and Chen (2013), state
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