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State of America’s Children 2008 - NY Ranks #3 for Kids in Poverty

December 29, 2008

New York, NY — The recession has pushed another 500,000 children into poverty, with New York ranking third in the nation for the largest number of poor children. That's according to the new State of America’s Children 2008 report from the Children's Defense Fund(CDF).

The Reverend Emma Jordan-Simpson, executive director of CDF-New York, says times have gotten so tough that 2 million New Yorkers who have never needed help before are now relying on food pantries. And, because financial recovery for New York depends on both beating back the recession and reinvestment in Wall Street; she fears the numbers could get worse in 2009.

"The number of uninsured children in our state has risen to over 400,000, and the number of homeless families that sleep in homeless shelters in New York City has reached its highest point in 25 years; and this is unacceptable."

Simpson says New York, and the nation, must invest in programs like early education and childcare so kids have a pathway out of poverty, and low-income parents can work while their children are learning. Those investments aren't an easy decision because federal investments right now mean a bigger national deficit.

Many are pinning their hopes for the future on next month's presidential inauguration of Barack Obama. Simpson believes that hope must be combined with a national financial investment in children.

"What are we going to do with young people who cannot read? Unless we invest in early childhood education and in early care, then I don’t see how an Obama administration even, will have very much to work with."

Simpson says 2008 comes to a close with almost nine million uninsured American children. She says if Obama can accomplish only one thing for kids as president, she believes it should be full health insurance coverage for all children and pregnant mothers. The State of America's Children 2008 report is on the web at www.childrensdefense.org

Michael Clifford/Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY