On September 21, 2023, Representative Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Representative Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), Representative Sara Jacobs (D-CA), and U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2023 to commit the nation to cutting child poverty by half in 5 years and to implement an accountability framework to ensure we achieve this goal.
Due to strong federal investment—especially the expanded Child Tax Credit—child poverty precipitously dropped by almost half between 2020 and 2021, reducing from 9.7% to 5.2% — the lowest rate on record. Alarmingly, Census data from September 2023 revealed that the child poverty rate more than doubled between 2021 and 2022 to 12.4% following the expiration of these targeted investments in workers and families.
Reducing child poverty is a moral emergency. Poverty exacts tremendous suffering. Child poverty forms massive gaps in cognitive learning, increases risks of hunger and homelessness, and raises the likelihood of living in poverty as an adult. Approximately 8.9 million children lived in poverty in 2022, with over 1 million children living in deep poverty. Due to our country’s long history of systematic racism, poverty rates for children of color are more than twice that of white children. In 2022, approximately one-fifth of Black children (18.3%), one-third of American Indian/Alaska Native children (29.5%), one-fifth of Latinx children (19.5%), and one-tenth (9.9%) of Asian American children lived in poverty compared to under one-tenth (7.2%) of white children.
The Child Poverty Reduction Act commits the federal government to cutting child poverty in half within 5 years. The United Kingdom and Canada both successfully used poverty reduction targets to implement critical policies that halved child poverty. In addition, the bill charges the executive branch with monitoring our progress in meeting the target and directs the non-partisan National Academy of Sciences with analyzing how federal policies contributed to poverty reduction each year. Examining our success in real-time will inform our policies. If our policies fail to diminish child poverty, we need to do more. If our policies succeed in reducing poverty, then we stay the course.
“As the former Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, I experienced firsthand the vast power that can be unleashed when a local government combines clear goals, measurable metrics, and a dedicated workforce. Our legislation applies the same principles at the Federal level," Congressman Connolly said. "Such an approach could reduce America’s outrageously high child poverty rate in just five years through implementation of a national plan with clear strategic goals, metrics, and evidence-based policies."
“We live in the wealthiest nation in the world,” said Rep. Davis. “It is inexcusable and unacceptable for so many of our children to be condemned to grow up in America under these conditions. With targeted federal investment, we slashed child poverty by almost half between 2020 and 2021. Now, after Republicans let these supports expire, child poverty more than doubled. That is inexcusable. Child poverty plummets when we have the political will to act. We must set an aggressive child poverty reduction target and hold ourselves accountable to restore income supports and cut child poverty. Otherwise, we risk irreparable harm to our youngest children, especially children of color.”
“The just-released Census data showing that the child poverty rate more than doubled in a single year should alarm every person in this country,” said Rep. Lee, Co-Chair of the Democratic Caucus Poverty Task Force. “We should not have needed a global pandemic to prompt the expanded Child Tax Credit—the child poverty crisis is an emergency on its own. We saw how this transformative policy changed the lives of millions of children and families, especially in communities of color. As Co-Chair of the Democratic Caucus Poverty Task Force, I am working to build support in Congress for anti-poverty legislation like this important bill, the Child Poverty Reduction Act, to end child poverty in the United States once and for all.”
“Child poverty isn’t inevitable – it’s a shameful policy choice,” said Rep. Sara Jacobs. “We know exactly how to cut child poverty, and we’ve done it before through the expanded Child Tax Credit – that Republicans have since let expire. It’s long overdue to put the full and continued weight of our country’s resources behind ending child poverty and ensuring that all children and families have what they need to live with dignity and thrive. That’s why I’m so proud to co-lead the Child Poverty Reduction Act, so we can cut child poverty in half in five years and ultimately end this crisis.”
“As Americans, we have an obligation to help families access economic security and help children thrive,” Senator Bob Casey said. “With more than 15 percent of children in Pennsylvania living in poverty, the Child Poverty Reduction Act is a critical tool to help improve economic stability and security for children and their families. Every child in Pennsylvania and across the country should have the freedom and support they need to reach their full potential.”
The Child Poverty Reduction Act is supported by over 50 organizations, including the following: American Academy of Pediatrics; Child Welfare League of America (CWLA); First Focus Campaign for Children; National Association of Counties (NACo); Prevent Child Abuse America; Save the Children Action Network; Shriver Center on Poverty Law; Youth Villages; and ZERO TO THREE.