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NY Lags in Reducing Child Poverty

Almost 850,000 children in the state of New York live in poverty, nearly half in extreme poverty. (rubberduck1951/Pixabay)
Almost 850,000 children in the state of New York live in poverty, nearly half in extreme poverty. (rubberduck1951/Pixabay)
September 19, 2017

NEW YORK – The latest U.S. Census Bureau figures show little change in child poverty in New York state. The data shows that, nationally, more than 13 million children, or 18 percent, lived in poverty in 2016, a drop of almost two percent.

But, New York's child poverty rate was almost three percentage points higher than the national average.

Kimberly Chin, deputy director of the Children's Defense Fund New York, says despite progress on the national level, children in New York are being left behind.

"We are trending very, very slightly down," she says. "But because of the size of our population, we still have an enormous amount of children still living in poverty, almost 850,000, larger than most of the other states."

The state continues to have wide disparities in poverty levels, with black and Hispanic children experiencing poverty at more than twice the rate of white children.

While child poverty in New York remains above the national level, Chin credits government supports such as SNAP benefits, earned income tax credits and supplemental security income for the progress that has been made.

"All of these programs - whether it's health, whether it's food stamps, whether it's school meals - are really doing what they're supposed to do and helping families who are in need," she explains.

But the Trump administration's proposed federal budget and the House budget plan both make deep cuts to programs that help low-income people.

Chin cautions that the progress that has been made in reducing childhood poverty, both on a state level and nationally, is in jeopardy.

"Cuts in the funding for these programs will be devastating to the states who run these programs and even more importantly devastating to the children and families who benefit from these programs," she warns.

Rather than cutting programs that work, she says, we should be expanding them to make sure no child is denied the opportunity to thrive.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY