Because the experience of poverty is traumatic for a child and negatively affects healthy development during critical growth years, CDF-NY works to ensure that working youth and families have access to work that pays, and income supports that secure basic needs like food and shelter. Under current policies, a parent would need to work 117 hours per week at the minimum wage to afford a market-rate two-bedroom apartment in New York for her and her family. When families are unable to meet basic needs despite their best efforts, the State and City must play an active role in safeguarding families’ access to income supports, quality food, housing and child care.
CDF-NY advocates for anti-poverty policies like those outlined in the CDF's groundbreaking report, Ending Child Poverty Now, including ensuring barrier-free access to existing income supports; promoting increased coordination between benefit applications (such as Express Lane eligibility which connects SNAP and Medicaid enrollment); ensuring the receipt of supports—especially child support— does not negatively affect a family’s access to other needed benefits; advocating for a fairer minimum wage; and expanding educational and employment opportunities for New York’s working youth and families. In a state with a 5.5 percent unemployment rate, where almost 16 percent of workers rely on SNAP to secure basic needs, these types of policies work toward our goal of protecting all children from the ills of poverty.
Ending Child Poverty Now in New York
The groundbreaking report, Ending Child Poverty Now, details how the nation can significantly reduce child poverty immediately. If the federal government invested an additional 2 percent of the budget to expand existing federal programs and policies that would increase employment opportunities while providing a fair and livable wage for parents, as well as ensuring that children’s basic needs are met; 60 percent of poor children across the country would be lifted out of poverty and 97 percent of all poor children would benefit.
A child in the United States has a 1 in 5 chance of being poor and the younger she is the poorer she is likely to be. At 20 percent, New York has the 5th highest child poverty rate in the nation—according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s supplemental poverty measure, which takes into account the cost of living and the impact of public benefits. The same policy improvements proposed by the report applied in New York would reduce child poverty by an impressive 73 percent. This impact would be significantly greater, more than 20 percent, than in the other three largest states (CA, FL and TX).
Growing up poor has lifelong negative consequences, decreasing the likelihood of graduating from high school and increasing the likelihood of becoming a poor adult, suffering from poor health, and becoming involved in the criminal justice system. These impacts cost the nation at least half a trillion dollars a year in lost productivity and increased health and crime costs. Letting our children grow up poor prevents them from having equal opportunities to succeed in life and robs the nation of their future contributions. The U.S. and New York State can end child poverty by investing more in programs and policies that work.