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One-third of Black, Latino children in poverty

By News | Last updated: Sep 26, 2013 - 11:39:05 AM

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Over 1 million Black children under the age of 5 are poor. Photo: MGN-Online
WASHINGTON - U.S. Census Bureau data released recently reported 46.5 million poor people in America in 2012, including 16.1 million children, essentially unchanged from 2011.

“Children of color are disproportionately poor. 37.9 percent of Black children and 33.8 percent of Hispanic children are poor while 12.3 percent of White, non-Hispanic children, are poor,” said the Children’s Defense Fund in reaction to the Census report.

“Hispanic children are the largest group of poor children (5.98 million), White non-Hispanic children the second largest (4.78 million), and Black children the third largest (4.20 million),” it added.

And the group said, nearly 43 percent of Black children under age five—1.27 million—are poor; nearly one in four are extremely poor.

The Children’s Defense Fund noted children “remain the poorest age group in the country with a poverty rate 21 percent higher than before the Great Recession. There are 2.75 million more children living in poverty today than there were in 2007 at a time when large corporations are experiencing record high profits and the wealthiest Americans’ net worth has increased, poor children have not had any relief.”

“It is disgraceful that more than one out of five children are poor in our rich nation. Income inequality was higher in 2012 than any time in the last hundred years in the United States, and it is children who suffer the most,” said Mariam Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Four decades after the group started and despite some gains in building a safety net, “our challenge to ensure every child a level playing field is greater than ever,” she said.

“The Great Recession thrust millions of children and families into poverty—many in extreme poverty—jeopardizing the promise of a productive future for children and our nation. And the younger children are the poorer they are. 25.1 percent of children under age 5, the years of greatest brain development were poor in 2012. Poverty stacks the odds against children,” said the advocacy group.

“Research shows children growing up poor are less likely to succeed in school, to grow up healthy and more likely to be poor as adults,” it added.

Ms. Edelman argued now is not the time to cut programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. “Almost half of SNAP recipients are children. Census Bureau data show SNAP lifted 4 million Americans out of poverty in 2012,” said her organization.

“Despite its proven success, SNAP remains a consistent target at budget-cutting time. It is incomprehensible and morally indefensible that this week the House of Representatives will vote on a bill that would seriously harm many receiving SNAP while they protect subsides for rich farmers,” said Ms. Edelman Sept. 17.

“This is just one of a recent series of efforts on Capitol Hill to shred the safety net poor children and families desperately need to survive and thrive. 57,000 children have been cut from Head Start and Early Head Start from the mindless sequester. Ensuring children’s health and wellbeing is a test not only of our morality but of our common and economic sense. We need to create jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs that pay enough to lift people from poverty. When will enough of our leaders get it?”