U.S. child poverty on the rise

Barbara Lehman sits in the tent she calls home in a tent city for the homeless in downtown Reno, Nevada.

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: It's one of those reports that when you put it in the context of the current economic climate, makes complete sense. The Annie E. Casey Foundation survey stings no less. The child poverty rate in this country rose by 18 percent between 2000 and 2009. And a daunting 7.8 million kids have at least one parents who's unemployed. Laura Speer is associate director for policy reform and data at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, she's here to talk about the report now. Good morning.

LAURA SPEER: Good morning, Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: We're seeing that nationally the official poverty rate is up and that almost 8 million children have at least one parent that is out of work. What does that actually mean for families and children across this country?

SPEER: This affects kids in lots of ways. The first of course, is the amount of income that's coming into the household. But, there's also an impact on the amount of stress the family's under. There's a likelihood that they may have to move -- 5.3 million children were affected by foreclosure between 2007 and 2009 in the U.S. A lot of kids

CHIOTAKIS: A lot of hard hit states as far as foreclosures go. California, Nevada, that have been really hard hit. What's going on in those states?

SPEER: We found that in children with at least one unemployed parent, in California, about 13 percent of all the kids in the state had at least one unemployed parent. But the state that leads the pack is Nevada -- 16 percent of children in Nevada had at least one unemployed parent. And then looking at the foreclosure numbers, starting with Nevada having the highest rate, starting by Florida, Arizona and California, and we know those are the states with big foreclosure impacts and kids haven't been spared.

CHIOTAKIS: This is quite a hole to dig ourselves out of. I mean, what does it mean for the economic future of this country?

SPEER: These are the kids who are going to be the innovators, we hope, in the future that's going to help move our economy back out of the hole that we're in now. So, what we hope is that policy makers don't forget that there are kids being impacted by the recession, and also the ones who are most likely to be impacted by the many decisions that are being made in terms of how to spend government resources.

CHIOTAKIS: Laura Speer is associate director at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Laura, thank you so much.

SPEER: You're welcome.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...