Rep. Roybal-Allard Amendment to Fund Child Poverty Study Approved By Committee
At today’s House Appropriations Committee markup of the Fiscal Year 2016 Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill, the Committee passed an amendment introduced by Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) to fund a comprehensive, non-partisan National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study of child poverty in the United States.
“I am elated that the Appropriations Committee approved my amendment to fund this important, evidence-based study,” said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard. “The findings of this study will help our country develop effective policies and programs to fight the scourge of child poverty. Even in 21st century America, millions of children continue to experience horrible, nightmarish poverty. Not only is child poverty immoral, but it weakens our country, draining the talent and productivity of our next generation. America is the richest country on the planet: if we can’t keep our nation’s children from going hungry, how can we presume to serve as a moral beacon for the rest of the world? That is why I offered this amendment, and that is why I will continue to fight to ensure the study is fully implemented.”
“Today in America, there are nearly 15 million children living in poverty,” said Congresswoman Lee. “In the richest and most powerful nation in the world, one poor and hungry child is unacceptable; nearly 15 million is a travesty. Thanks to this study, Congress will be able to craft more effective strategies to reduce and eventually eliminate child poverty in America.”
“A parent will sacrifice and put in hard work to give her child a better life,” said First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley. “Shouldn't we expect the same from Congress on behalf of the one-in-five children living in poverty right now? Any policymaker who is serious about reducing child poverty needs to support the amendment the congresswomen offered. It's a smart, practical first step toward ending poverty for our children and families.”
The NAS study would be funded with $750,000 from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Social Services and Income Maintenance Research account. The study would examine child poverty’s causes, its individual impact, its macroeconomic costs, and its direct impact on both the federal budget and the nation as a whole. The study would also provide pragmatic, evidence-based recommendations about how to achieve a goal of cutting child poverty in half within the next 10 years.
While children represent only 23 percent of the U.S. population, they make up over 32 percent of those living in poverty. In California alone, there are 2.5 million Californians living in deep poverty, and 33 percent of them are children. These children live in families with incomes at or below $11,812 a year.
Conditions associated with poverty, such as substandard housing, lack of nutrition, overcrowding, and exposure to violence, can be toxic to a developing child’s brain. Even if a child only lives in poverty for a short time, many of poverty’s negative effects stay with that child for the rest of their life. These effects include much higher rates of health and developmental problems, poor academic achievement, and lower likelihood of high school graduation.
Child poverty also negatively impacts America as a whole. One study estimates that child poverty costs our country $500 billion a year in lost earnings, higher crime-related costs, and increased health expenditures.