Nearly one in three children in Virginia live in economically disadvantaged families earning less than $55,000 per year to cover the expenses of a family of four. This has remained unchanged in the last decade.
In some communities in Virginia, more than half of the children live in economically disadvantaged families. And Black and Latino children are more likely to live in economically disadvantaged families than their white counterparts.
For decades, Virginia has lost the battle against childhood poverty with little to no improvements from generation to generation. However, recent policy changes are showing promising signs. Improvements in health insurance coverage, SNAP benefits, tax credits and child care assistance – most of which were tied to pandemic relief – are helping families meet their basic needs and reduce rates of childhood poverty.
However, the economic uncertainty of the last few years keeps us racing to beat expiration dates on pandemic relief programs and growing concerns about inflation. Family economic security keeps families from experiencing stress, mental health concerns, and child welfare concerns. We know flexible cash assistance, affordable child care, and good paying jobs can stabilize a family.
Health care, food access, affordable housing, and economic security are closely linked as “social determinants of health.” These social determinants, often established by the policies and systems in a community, factor into a child’s overall well-being and that of their caregivers. To promote well-being, we consider all of these policies and systems to be critical and interwoven.
- Maximize eligibility for safety net support such as health insurance, food assistance, and child care assistance to support families on a path to economic stability.
- Expand tax relief opportunities such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit at the state and federal levels to provide flexible cash support to meet families’ needs.
- Expand safety nets and maximize tax relief for young adults seeking higher education and working towards careers.