High poverty rate among children under 6 in city

Posted by Public Citizens for Children and Youth on September 24, 2018

PCCY cites high poverty rate among children under 6 in city

In Philadelphia, the poverty rate of kids under 6 eclipses all others, according to an analysis of census data by Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY).

The most crucial years of brain development are the earliest ones, when children are learning everything, soaking up everything in their environment like sponges.

That’s partly why support for pre-K in the Commonwealth has reached the point of broad consensus and why support for quality infant and toddler care is growing – we want all kids to soak up the fundamentals of learning and socialization because we know those lessons can last a lifetime.

Unfortunately, in Southeastern Pennsylvania, far too many children live in poverty and that impact can last a lifetime.

PCCY crunched the numbers in newly released census data and gleaned the latest insight for the region.

In Southeastern Pennsylvania, 153,000 children live in poverty–and half of those are experiencing deep poverty, meaning they live in households with annual incomes of about $10,000.

The story is worse for kids under six (in those critical years of development), who suffer rates of poverty higher than older children. Isolating just that cohort, 56,000 live in poverty and half of those kids are in deep poverty.

Of all counties, Bucks kids under 6 fared the worst, as their rates of those in both poverty and deep poverty swelled.

But here’s the good news. Across every county, child poverty decreased since last year and the rate of children living in deep poverty is lower everywhere except Bucks.

Delaware and Philadelphia counties, which have the highest rates of poverty in the region, saw the biggest decreases.

Far too many children across the five counties are burdened by the yoke of poverty, affecting every aspect of their lives. The burden is certainly more pronounced and far more cruel to children under 6.

While we need to continue our efforts to improve educational outcomes to help break the cycle of poverty, there is a clear and urgent need to increase wages and income for their families.

Census: poverty rising among children, especially minorities
The latest Census numbers indicate that, while conditions may be improving for some children and adults, the overall economic well-being of our nation’s youngest citizens is worrisome, according to Child Trends (link is external). This is particularly true for black and Hispanic children.

The data show that in 2017, one in five infants and toddlers (19.9 percent of children ages birth through two years) were poor; this statistic is almost identical to the 2016 rate of 19.6 percent. In 2017, infants and toddlers represented the age group most likely to live in poverty. The disparities in poverty levels among infants and toddlers by race and ethnicity are particularly concerning: in 2017, nearly 1 in 3 black infants and toddlers (32.7 percent), and more than 1 in 4 Hispanic infants and toddlers (27.3 percent) lived in poverty, compared to approximately 1 in 9 white, non-Hispanic infants and toddlers (11.8 percent).

The most dramatic disparities are among infants (up to one year of age). While the overall percentage of infants living in poverty significantly increased between 2016 and 2017 from 17.2 percent to 20.2 percent,4 the largest increases were among black and Hispanic infants, for whom the poverty rate rose by six and eight percentage points—28.5 to 34.4 percent and 20.7 to 28.4 percent, respectively.

The conditions of poverty have lifelong negative impacts on children’s development in all domains—physical, social-emotional, cognitive, and linguistic. This should be of concern to all, since the economic health of our youngest citizens will greatly influence population health and the capabilities of our future workforce.5 As America becomes increasingly diverse racially and ethnically, it is imperative that we turn our collective attention to infants and toddlers, the most vulnerable Americans, in order to identify policy and practice solutions that will support equity in children’s development.

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