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Children in Poverty
Photo: Zach Nash
More than a quarter of the children in America's 50 largest cities (28%) live in poverty as compared to less than one in five (18%) for the entire nation. That is one distressing finding from a recent Brookings Institution analysis of the latest American Community Survey from the U.S.Census.

There are big differences from city to city. Some cities, like Detroit and Atlanta, have very high child poverty rates, while others, like Virginia Beach and Wichita, have far less.The child poverty rate increased significantly over the last five years nationwide and in the 50 largest cities. Sixteen cities experienced a statistically significant increase in their child poverty rates over the last five years, and only one---Los Angeles---saw a significant decline.
Throughout large cities, the share of children with no parent either employed or looking for work was very closely associated with child poverty. Cities that ranked high on child poverty also tended to have more single-parent families. Cities with declining populations, such as Baltimore and Cleveland, had the highest rates of child poverty and children living in single-parent families. Cities with growth, such as Austin and Phoenix, had lower-than-average child poverty rates largely due to their higher rates of employed parents and lower rates of single parenthood.

Bottom line, if unemployment is up in our community and new jobs are not being created at a good rate, then we are likely to have more children living in poverty. Research shows that children who grow up in low-income homes are less likely to get the education and other opportunities necessary to succeed throughout their lives.

What can we do about this?

1. Start after-school programs for children from low-income households.This can help provide nutrition, help with homework and supportive role models with employed adults.

2. Go volunteer in a program of this kind or become a Big Brother/BigSister to just one underprivileged child in your community.

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By Monte Sahlin. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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