Concentrated Poverty Snapshot Released
91,000 children still live in struggling neighborhoods
Virginia is home to 91,000 children living in concentrated poverty, according to “Children Living in High Poverty, Low-Opportunity Neighborhoods,” a new KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot released today (9/24/19) by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Using the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the snapshot examines trends in concentrated poverty across the country. Since 2007, Virginia has seen no change in its concentrated poverty rate, despite economic growth. In comparison, over 29 states saw recent improvements in these rates, while 10 other states saw concentrated poverty rates increase.
Growing up in a community of concentrated poverty — a neighborhood where 30 percent or more of the population is living in poverty — is one of the greatest risks to child development. More than 5% of Virginia’s children continue to live in these settings. Children in high-poverty neighborhoods tend to lack access to healthy food and quality medical care, and they often face greater exposure to environmental hazards, such as poor air quality and toxins such as lead. When these children grow up, they are more likely to have lower incomes than children who have moved away from communities of concentrated poverty.
Children of color continue to be disproportionately impacted. Latinx children are twice as likely to live in concentrated poverty as their White peers, and Black children are more than seven times as likely to live in high-poverty neighborhoods as White children
“Children deserve to grow up in neighborhoods where they have the opportunity to thrive. This report shows us that current policies in Virginia are not benefitting all children equitably, and informs where we need to focus our efforts,” said Margaret Nimmo Holland, Executive Director of Voices for Virginia’s Children.
Key findings from the snapshot include:
- Latinx children (4%) are twice as likely as White children (2%) to live in concentrated poverty.
- Black children (15%) are over seven times as likely as White children (2%) to live in concentrated poverty.
- The percentage of Virginia children living in concentrated poverty has stayed consistent at 5% since 2007, despite national economic growth.
“One might think a strong economy would have a positive impact on all families, but we can see from the data that is not the case. Certain groups of children and their families are disproportionately left behind, so we need to target policies that will reach these children specifically,” said Nimmo Holland.
The data report outlines solutions to address concentrated poverty and it challenges leaders to confront issues like the far-reaching effects of racial inequity. Policies at the local and state levels can have a significant impact on the lives of children. Areas of policy under consideration that would have a positive impact include:
- ensuring that children in high-poverty neighborhoods have better access to high-quality and comprehensive early childhood education. High-poverty communities should be targeted for early childhood education expansion, including comprehensive supports like transportation, health and mental health services. Research also shows that economically disadvantaged young children can benefit from two years of high-quality preschool.
- securing financial resources for families so that they do not experience further hardship. Most families in poverty rely on public assistance to meet their basic needs. In Virginia, cash assistance for families through TANF has not kept pace with inflation and our Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is not fully refundable. At the national level, there are potential eligibility changes to SNAP that could impact parents’ ability to feed their families.
National 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book
According to the 30th edition of the KIDS COUNT® Data Book released June 17, 2019 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, children in the United States have a better chance of thriving now than in 1990, but there is still room for improvement. Virginia’s child population has increased by nearly half a million (348,506 or 23 percent) — from 1.5 million in 1990 to more than 1.8 million in 2017. In addition, the child population of Virginia has become even more diverse:
- The Latinx child population increased dramatically from 3 percent in 1990 to 14 percent in 2017.
- The percentage of Asian children has increased from 3 percent in 1990, to 8 percent in 2017.
- The percentage of Black population has decreased slightly from 23 percent of total children in 1990, to 22 percent in 2017.
- The percentage of White children has declined dramatically from 71 percent of total children in 1990, to 56 percent in 2017.
The most comprehensive annual report on child well-being in the United States notes measurable progress since the first Data Book, which was published in 1990. Nevertheless, more than 13 million U.S. children live in poverty. In Virginia, the percent of children living in poverty has remained the same over the past decade. Over 258,000 children (14 percent) lived below the Federal Poverty Level (family of four) in 2017, despite economic growth and significant improvements in other economic indicators.
The Data Book contains information based on 16 indicators that rank each state across four domains — Health, Education, Economic well-being, and Family and Community — as an assessment of child well-being. Virginia showed positive change in 10 of the 16 KIDS COUNT® index measures since 2010.
- Economic well-being: Virginia ranks thirteenth in Economic well-being this year. Despite the stagnant child poverty rate, Virginia families have experienced major progress in economic security over the last decade with a 12 percent increase in children living in households where a parent has full-time employment.
- Education: Virginia ranks sixth overall and has made significant improvements in high schoolers graduating on time with a 28 percent change since 2010.
- Family and Community: Virginia ranked fourteenth overall. For all four Family and Community indicators in this domain, Virginia’s children and families show outcomes better than the U.S. average. The percentage of children living in single-parent families decreased slightly since 2010 to 31 percent, compared to the U.S. average of 34 percent. The percent of children living in a high poverty area has remained consistent with the poverty rate over the last decade, but remains lower than the national average of 12 percent.
- Health: Virginia ranks seventeenth in Health. Despite low uninsured rates for children (5 percent), Virginia lags behind the rest of the nation with regard to low birth-weight babies and child deaths.
The Casey Foundation points to areas of tremendous improvement in children’s lives — including access to health care, decreased rates of teen childbearing, and increased rates of high school graduation — and draws a direct line to policies that support this success. As the child population is expanding, there are steps that policymakers should take to help all children thrive. Voices for Virginia’s Children calls on elected officials and representatives to:
- Promote healthy development and prevent exposure to childhood trauma by adopting trauma-informed policies and practices. Leading the Campaign for a Trauma-Informed Virginia, Voices promotes investments in the prevention of abuse and neglect and evidence-based practices to mitigate exposure to trauma and adversity.
- Provide equitable access to opportunities. Children of color and children from economically disadvantaged families should be provided the opportunity to attend high-quality early education and fully resourced schools.
- Support policies that keep parents and their children healthy. Medicaid expansion has been providing health insurance coverage to nearly 100,000 Virginia parents. When parents have health insurance, their children are more likely to be insured and to receive medical care.
- Count all kids. Virginia should leverage the Complete Count Commission to ensure the 2020 Census counts all children, including those under the age of five and those in hard-to-count areas.
OTHER NATIONAL REPORTS
2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book was released on June 27 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in partnership with Voices for Virginia’s Children. This 29th edition of the Data Book contains a KIDS COUNT child well-being index composed of 16 indicators evenly divided under four key domains: economic well-being, education, health, and family, and community.
2018 Opening Doors for Young Parents Report: This report reminds policymakers and child advocates of the barriers that young families face. It examines national and state-level trends — highlighting areas of opportunity and concern — and then shares potential solutions that can help these families thrive.
2017 Race for Results Report: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children: In this KIDS COUNT policy report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation explores the intersection of children, opportunity, race, and immigration. The report features updated data for the Race for Results Index, which measures how children are progressing on key milestones by race and ethnicity at the national and state levels.
2014 Race for Results Report: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children is an Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT policy report that unveils the new Race for Results Index of 12 indicators, which compares how children are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups at the national and state level. The index is a measure of the primary ingredients children need to succeed. None of Virginia’s racial and ethnic groups of children meet all the key milestones, though some groups are faring better than others.