There are now more children living in poverty than becoming pregnant or dying prematurely, but it may not necessarily be good news considering the trials and tribulations that accompany a life of straits could be a fate worse than death. A new report published in the 25th edition of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book has revealed some startling news for the future of America’s children and which states are best and worst to raise them in.
The report assesses a child state-by-state on four factors: economic well-being, education, health, and their family and community. It found nearly 23 percent of children were living below the poverty line in 2012, and it’s hypothesized the reason is behind low-income families’ struggles to recover from the recession.
Patrick McCarthy, the foundation’s president and CEO, pointed out the pros and cons of what their data indicates and said in a press release that the public should be “encouraged” by improvements on several fronts, but “we must do much more.” Teen birth rates dropped from 40 per every 1,000 teens in 2005 to 29 per births in 2012, along with the decrease of babies born at low birth weights. Child and teen deaths also dropped from 32 per every 100,000 in 2005 to only 26 in 2010, which shows a clear improvement. But the nagging numbers of poverty rate increases show less promise for the teens and adults these children will grow into one day.
In 2012, there were three million more children living in poor families than in 2005. It’s not just a life of wanting that could cripple a child’s mental and emotional health, but also their physical well-being as well. One of the improvements for children living in low-income families in the past 20 years has been the increased access to health insurance through Medicaid expansions through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program implemented in 1997. From 1990 to 2012, there was a four percent increase in the amount of children who were insured.
However, McCarthy says the decrease of resource availability from government programs like Medicaid or Medicare will only make things worse for kids in the future and as higher housing and transportation costs increase, poor families stay poor. “We should strengthen our commitment and redouble our efforts until every child in America develops to full potential," McCarthy said. "We simply cannot afford to endanger the futures of the millions of low-income children who don’t have the chance to experience high-quality early childhood programs and the thriving neighborhoods that higher-income families take for granted."
Children who live in single-parent families are more likely to live below the poverty line, which generally concludes they’ll have access to fewer resources. It’s no surprise why it would be alarming to find there were 35 percent more children living in single-parent families in 2012 than in 2005.
What Is Life Like For Children Who Live In Poverty?
Being poor is a reality too many children face in America today. It is a frequent misconception many well-off Americans have, that the poor are lazy or even take advantage of the government systems we have in place. Children do not choose to be raised in poverty and to scoff at a child who may go wanting day-to-day is an arguably shameful opinion to hold.
These children oftentimes grow up in families without vehicles, which is why cities are prime locations for them to be raised in. They grow used to school lunches, which the USDA frequently replaces their required vegetable with a substitute like tater tots or their whole grains for pretzels. Obesity rates skyrocket among poverty-stricken children and minorities, and the fact that 30 percent of third graders don’t even have recess in their school schedules doesn’t help the cause, according to a 2009 study in the journal of Pediatrics.
If a premature death during childhood doesn't kill them, a life of health problems will burden their little hearts and lungs and cause them to grow into sickly adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the financial challenges people who are obese will face is $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
Children are the advent and signs to come of what the future of America has in store for us, which is why it’s important to invest resources into the 16,397,000 children who currently live in poverty, and make sure the next survey provides us with lower numbers.