Census Snapshot: Investments in Kids' Coverage and Nutrition Pay Off
Washington – Federal investments in children’s health insurance and nutrition mitigate the pressing economic problems facing America’s children and working families, according to a snapshot of new Census data released today by First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization.
“Headlines are filled with indicators that the economy is improving, but the Census data show that kids are still reeling from the recession and one in five live in poverty,” said Ed Walz, spokesman for First Focus Campaign for Children. “The good news is we know what works to lift children out of poverty, and our leaders in Congress have opportunities to protect these investments in the upcoming budget debates.”
The snapshot reveals 16.1 million children, or 21.8 percent, live in poverty in the United States. This is in comparison to 46.5 million, or 15 percent, of all Americans. Poverty is defined by a family income of $23,283 in 2012 for a family of four.
Federal investments have a proven track record of lifting children out of poverty. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) protects children from poverty by reducing out-of-pocket food costs. Federally funded SNAP reduced childhood poverty in 2012 by 1.67 million children.
Investments in children’s health coverage such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), are responsible for reducing the number of uninsured kids in 2012 to 6.6 million, or 8.9 percent. The percentage of children who are uninsured is lower than the 48 million, or 15.4 percent, uninsured Americans.
“We are pleased that Medicaid and CHIP have helped us to continue reducing the numbers of uninsured kids but, with over 6.5 million kids living without health coverage, there is more work to be done," said Walz.
Family Tax Credits
Family tax credits are an effective shield against child poverty. The poverty numbers would have been significantly worse, were it not for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit. The EITC reduced child poverty by 2.9 million, or 4 percent.
“We know what Congress can do to protect kids from poverty fallout: Protect SNAP and family tax credits, and extend and enhance the Children’s Health Insurance Program so it can work with Medicaid to cover uninsured kids,” said Walz. “Today’s data provides a clear roadmap of which programs are most successful in reaching our most vulnerable kids. The question is whether Congress has the will to act."
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