Children Living in High-Poverty Communities Surged 25 Percent Over Last Decade, Report Finds

Nearly eight million children in America live in areas of high poverty — about 1.6 million more since 2000 — a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds.

Based in part on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS), the latest Kids Count Data Snapshot (4 pages, PDF) found that 11 percent of the nation's children are growing up in areas where at least 30 percent of residents live below the federal poverty level — about $22,000 per year for a family of four. In 2000, 6.3 million kids, or 9 percent, were living in such communities, which often lack access to resources that are critical to healthy growth and development, including quality education, medical care, and safe outdoor spaces.

According to ACS, almost all states saw the number of children in high-poverty neighborhoods climb, with the highest rates in Mississippi (23 percent), New Mexico (20 percent), Louisiana (18 percent), Texas (17 percent), and Arizona (16 percent). While Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico saw their rates drop over the period, they continue to have higher rates — 32 percent and 83 percent, respectively — than any state in the country.

"Kids in these high-poverty areas are at risk for health and developmental challenges in almost every aspect of their lives, from education to their chances for economic success as adults," said Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and data at the Casey Foundation. "Transforming disadvantaged communities into better places to raise children is vital to ensuring the next generation and their families realize their potential."

"Children Living in High-Poverty Communities Surged 25 Percent Over Last Decade." Annie E. Casey Foundation Press Release 02/23/2012.