According to a new report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, child poverty in the United States could be halved over the next 10 years.
The cost would be high – at least $ 90 billion a year. But the report of the national academies warns that the price to pay for doing nothing would be much higher.
The group estimates that current levels of child poverty cost between US $ 800 billion and US $ 1.1 trillion per year in the United States, due to declining productivity when poor children become adults and additional costs due to higher crime. and poor health. Children also suffer because they face lower school performance, abuse, and other barriers to poor development. In the end, the panel says that the whole country pays the price.
"Adequate, responsible and healthy adults are the foundation of any successful and prosperous society, but in this respect, the future of the United States is not as safe as it could be. 39 "to be," says the report, published after a year of study commissioned by Congress. It was conducted by a non-partisan group of poverty experts, mostly academics.
To solve the problem, the panel provides two possible packages. The former would expand existing programs that encourage work but also provide direct assistance. This would include an increase in the earned income tax credit and child and dependent child tax credits for working families, as well as the expansion of housing checks and the additional nutritional assistance program. , also called good of food.
The panel said these changes would cost about $ 90.7 billion a year, but would draw about 400,000 people into the labor force and halve the rate of child poverty by 10 years.
The second suggestion is to extend the EITC and childcare tax credits, increase the minimum wage and remove restrictions on immigrant families' access to public support. The package would also provide an annual allowance of $ 2,700 per child. The package would cost $ 109 billion a year, but would create about 600,000 jobs while halving the rate of child poverty.
The panel estimates that in 2015, 9.6 million children – or 13% – lived in poverty. Two million of these children lived in "extreme poverty", meaning their families had resources below half the poverty line. In 2015, this line stood at $ 26,000 for a family of four.
The poverty rate of children from immigrant families was twice as high as that of children from non-immigrant families – 21% versus 10%. The poverty of black and Hispanic children was also more than twice as high as that of non-Hispanic white children, according to calculations of the National Academy.
The big question is whether Congress will accept the panel's suggestions. The trend of recent years has been to reduce or limit public aid to the poor, and the Trump administration has indicated that its next budget will require strong cuts in domestic spending.
The panel also found that some conservative initiatives to reduce child poverty – such as programs to promote marriage and family planning – showed little evidence of work. He also found that programs involving aid recipients also did not seem to reduce child poverty. In fact, the report concludes: "It seems that the demands of work are at least as likely to increase as to reduce poverty".
The Trump administration and congressional Republicans have called for mandatory working conditions in several aid programs, including Medicaid, SNAP and housing assistance.
Marla Dean, executive director of Bright Beginnings, a Washington-based program to help homeless children and families become self-reliant, testified before the panel. She said, at the very least, that the report could help guide the future debate on how to reduce child poverty by providing rigorous academic research on what works and what does not work. But it is also realistic about the prospects for success when the country is politically divided.
"It's an opportunity [for] hope, "she says," and that's what this report proposes, it's hope. "