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  • One in Five Children Poor—but What Does That Mean?

    Today a new report was released indicating nearly one in five children in the U.S. is poor. The report, from the Annie Casey Foundation, was technically correct; it followed conventional Census procedures for identifying poor children.

    But what does it mean to be “poor” in the U.S.? Government data show that the typical poor family with children has a computer, cable TV, air conditioning, a car, multiple TVs, a microwave, and an Xbox in the home.

    News stories typically equate “poverty” with homelessness and feature despondent children living in the back of the family’s car. But the Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that only one child in 200 was homeless, even briefly, during 2009. The typical poor child lives in a normal house or apartment that is in good repair and is not over-crowded.

    How about childhood hunger? TV news reports that America faces a “hunger crisis” in which “nearly one in four kids” is hungry. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which conducts the nation’s food consumption and hunger survey, says otherwise.

    According to the USDA, during the full 12 months of 2009, only one child in 67 was reported “hungry”—even temporarily—because the parent couldn’t afford enough food. It said 99 percent of children did not skip a single meal during the year because of lack of financial resources in the home.

    USDA also reports there is no difference in quality of diet between children from high- and low-income homes. The average consump­tion of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms. Most poor children today are, in fact, super-nour­ished, growing up to be, on average, one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.

    Another important but neglected question is: Why are children poor? Answer: The main causes of child poverty are low levels of parental work and the absence of fathers.

    Of course, in the current recession, poverty has increased somewhat as parents lost jobs. But most child poverty predates the recession. The simple fact is that most poor parents don’t work very much, even during economic booms. In the best economic times, the average poor family with children is supported by only 800 hours of work during a year. That’s 16 hours per week. If work in each family were raised to 2,000 hours per year—the equivalent of one adult working 40 hours per week throughout the year— nearly 75 percent of poor children would immediately be lifted out of official poverty.

    Fathers’ absence is another major cause of child pov­erty. Nearly two-thirds of poor children are in sin­gle-parent homes. An additional 1.5 million chil­dren are born out of wedlock each year. If poor single mothers married the fathers of their children, almost three-quarters would immediately be lifted out of poverty.

    Work and marriage are reliable ladders out of pov­erty. Unfortunately, the welfare system remains per­versely hostile to both. Despite welfare reform, major programs such as food stamps, public housing, and Medicaid continue to reward idleness and penalize marriage. If welfare could be turned around to require work and encourage marriage, remaining poverty among children would drop substantially.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    23 Responses to One in Five Children Poor—but What Does That Mean?

    1. Bobbie says:

      growing up when we didn't know we were "poor" we didn't have a colored tv until 1981! Through government tax payers, the poor are given a better quality of life without expectations to help themselves, then the government will allow us to work for!

      Thanks to costs and expenses of unconstitutional, governmental overreach, infringing on personal freedoms and livelihoods while holding tax payers accountable to irresponsible issues in society, along with discriminating benefits at the cost of those who don't, there's alot of mess to clean up.

      Freedom is being taken over in the name of the government misled, excused on all accountabilities including their own children!! The reflection of unAmerican!!! If everyone paid their own way, we'd have shared sacrifices in our own ways or no one would be sacrificing. Taking away things that a person doesn't pay for is not a sacrifice. It's a readjustment!

      For America to have one in five children deemed "poor," mirrors poor government and it's poor leadership.

    2. Glenn Hyman says:

      In this article you don't say how they determine whether a household is poor (despite the title of your post). I suspect they calculate household income or expenses and then compare that to the minimum that a household needs to eat and pay for the basics – shelter, school supplies, basic health. They may have amenities, but how many of these amenities are second hand that you could pick up at the Goodwill store or something like that? And even if they sold these second-hand (and probably outdated) amenities, how much might they earn? Probably not enough to last more than a few months……Being a poor child means that your household – for whatever reason – is not giving you enough food, enough basic educational opportunity or enough basic health care to meet what most of us would consider a minimum standard of dignity. Let's not demonize and kick poor children when they are down, through no fault of their own.

      • Bobbie says:

        what you consider poor, I consider child neglect. didn't you here about the cell phone giveaways to the "poor?" If people are poor why would government even consider a need for a cell phone? How can they afford to travel to have to use one? If people knew their obligations of priorities to shelter, clothe and feed themselves and children first, they're not so "poor" but severely misled by democratic influence. we can't afford a cell phone yet our obligated taxes from money that is worked for, paid for cell phones given to others that don't even know what priorities are which the government obviously doesn't want them to know. Let's consider the facts and not assume anyone's demonizing the truly needy of society.

      • Suzq says:

        poppycock, spoken from a true bleeding heart, you need to look around, go to Walmart the first day or two of the month when checks and food stamps come out and see how undernourished the children and the parents are and I doubt very seriously they buy anything second hand, in the entitlement age, give me a freakin break, buddy

    3. Pdog says:

      Amazing. I grew up in poverty and never knew it. We didn't have air conditioning, only had one B&W TV, no Xbox, no cable TV or microwave. We got our first color TV when I was about 8, and the B&W went to the basement. When I was about 14 we got Pong. Cable TV and microwave when I was about 16. Mom finally got a window air conditioner about 15 years ago. I thought we were middle class.

    4. Anne Powell says:

      Rector's article effectively brings to light the misleading report from the Annie Casey Foundation. "Poor" families aren't really poor, and if they have money problems, its due to their own laziness and screwed up values. the government exacerbates the problem by rewarding women for having children out of wedlock. This has to stop.

    5. Rick Smith says:

      I am old and grew up in a different time. The small town I grew up in didn't get electricity until I was 5. We didn't get indoor plumbing unitil I was 13. We had one well water tap in the kitchen and no hot water. We had a wood stove for cooking and heating the small (about 800 sq. ft.) 2 bedroom house.
      My father was a 95% disabled WWII veteran with one eye and one lung who frequently worked two jobs (my mother also worked). Yet we never knew we were poor and never took a dime of government welfare.
      Different times!

      • rango says:

        I guess you didn't count the veteran benefits.

        • Receiving your due reward for defending your country and receiving a government handout simply for breathing air are two different things! Save your smug replies for someone other than a wartime vet who has paid his due.

        • Bobbie says:

          You're appalling, rango! The only ones that are truly deserving of ALL BENEFITS are those who defend and protect this country and their children who live through it!!!… where's you're gratitude?

          …and the elderly who've been robbed and manipulated by the government long enough!!

          Randy's right, Stirling's right and Mr. Green is right!!!!!! and everyone before you that sees this for what it is!! MISLEADING!!!!

        • bob says:

          They didn't have disability checks then.

    6. Stirling says:

      It mean that the "Nanny State" has failed to do what it was intended to do.. Trillions of dollars can not change basic human (imperfect) behavior to become what we are not.. "Poor" is also financially dependent on the part of the country living in.

    7. Ken Green says:

      You folks make me embarrassed to call myself an American

    8. Bridget says:

      I, for one, am very glad to know that food insecurity in the U.S. is so low, whatever the reason.

      That having been said, Mr. Rector is grossly exaggerating the data in the Heritage Foundation's own study when he says things like " the typical poor family with children has a computer, cable TV, air conditioning, a car, multiple TVs, a microwave, and an Xbox in the home". The HF's study states 31% of poor families have more than two televisions. That means 69% do not. It states 29% have a video game system. That means 71% do not. The study does not attempt to report on the age of any of the amenities listed, allowing readers to assume they are newer than they might be. Perhaps a household has three televisions, and maybe all of them are ten years old. Families with children only means there are persons under the age of 18 living in the home. Perhaps the video game system is owned by an older child who bought it with money earned from a part-time job.

      Statistics lie, and readers frequently see only what they want to. Before you judge "the poor" by this article, read the data, consider possibilities, wonder about demographics (a family living in a rural area with no reliable public transport would have to have a car), check your privilege, and maybe the level of outrageousness will decrease.

      • Kirsten J. Kerr says:

        Thank you Bridget. People are so mean to the poor. Have they even walked their walk, or been in their shoes. I think a lot of people take government handouts because that's the only chance they have to buy foodstamps, or get electricity. I always get a tax refund, every year, but you know what, I work my ass off, all year long, just as hard, if not harder than the person who has to pay. And I still pay, I don't get back all that they hold out, that's a joke. If I didn't get my refund every year, I would be homeless too. That's my chance to get caught up on all my bills. I never have enough to buy anything for myself, or my son. I don't think people understand poverty. At least, the people who are talking, on computers.

    9. Noel Hopper says:

      Assuming that Robert Rector took his hunger data from the USDA Economic Research Service report (gave no citiation just referred to a USDA report) which details results of food secure and food insecure households. Mr. Rector did not point out that 14.7% of households were food insecure which equated to just over 50million households. Broken down this means over 17 million children lived in a food insecure home. 12.2 million children lived in a low food security and 5.4 million childen in very low secure households. He did not point out that 57% of these families relied on one or more of the top 3 federal food assistance programs (food stamps, WIC, National School Nutrition) TO MAKE SURE THE KIDS DIDNT GO HUNGRY!!!!. 85% of these families had a working adult in the hiusehold and 70% had a working adult working at least 40hrs per week. As for Mr. Rector's interpretation that 99% did not skip a meal or went hungry is only interpolation but if it were true that would still mean 750,000 children according to 2010 census numbers. Though the report I am sure he gets his data from reports that 1.3% (988,000) missed meals and went hungry. Mr. Rector reports that 1 in 200 children are homeless but does not elaborate that that means 375,000 children. He further cites an unidentified report stating that only one in 67 are hungry. Giving him the benefit of the doubt that still means that 1,119,403 children are hungry right now in this country…. I'll just end this with the assertion that a statician can use numbers to say anything they wish. However we cannot just let them pass when they do not back up their statements with verifiable sources. My data came from the USDA Economic Research Report (ERR-108) and simple math using current census data. I apologize upfront for any typos… I am sending this on my phone.

      • saveamerica says:

        you both obviously live far away from what the government accommodates to their "deemed" poor. Soon you'll both be deemed the same. You make a good point, Noel. Stats don't lie but the human statistician can.

      • Steve says:

        By your, somewhat pompously proclaimed, accurate and detailed research, you have proclaimed the number of households in the USA to be in excess of 340 million – more than the total population.

    10. Kirsten J. Kerr says:

      I didn't even read the last half of this article. The main push is that Single Mothers AND THEIR CHILDREN are the poorest people in this nation. DUH! So you know what ? WHAT does this say about MEN???? I raised my son until he was four, then got married, and it was harder, taking care of all of us, then it was just he two of us. We are now separated. Why can't MEN take care of their children??? My son just recently met his father, after 9 years. I decided that I would get help, and file for child support FINALLY! I raised him in POVERTY for the first 9 years, his father, who has a great job, can help out the last 9. If you ask me, MEN, who make the rules, run the country, and debate this and that, are the ones that now need to step up. That's poor Dad's, rich Dad's, and MIddle Class Dad's!!! Why do women always have to carry the burden of this world?

    11. Michael says:

      I love how I'm part of the generation that's going to be paying for all these "entitlements" when I'm 70 with money I won't have in an economy that doesn't exist. Thanks a lot, adults, thanks a lot for ruining my chances at the American dream, enjoy your meal provided by Social Security.

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