On Thursday, February 28, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) released the results of their nearly two year study on reducing child poverty in the United States, A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty. CWLA President & CEO Chris James-Brown was one of the 15 member committee that studied the issue and wrote the report. The committee was made up of experts in economics, public policy, child psychology, and human development.

The task was to conduct a consensus study of the costs of child poverty in the United States and the effectiveness of current efforts aimed at reducing poverty. The committee reviewed available high-quality research on current programs, with emphasis on evaluations that include benefit-cost analysis. Their task included:

• Synthesize the available research on the macro- and micro-economic, health, and social costs of child poverty, with attention to linkages between child poverty and health, education, employment, crime, and child well-being.
• Assess current international, federal, state, and local efforts to reduce child poverty and provide an analysis of the poverty-reducing effects of existing major assistance programs directed at children and families in the United States, as well as relevant programs developed in other industrialized countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland.

• Identify policies and programs with the potential to help reduce child poverty and deep poverty (measured using the Supplemental Poverty Measure) by 50 percent within 10 years of the implementation of the policy approach.

• For programs identified as having strong potential to reduce child poverty, the committee was to provide analysis in a format that allows federal policy makers to identify and assess potential combinations of policy investments that can best meet their policy objectives.

• Identify key high-priority research gaps, the filling of which, would significantly advance the knowledge base for developing policies to reduce child poverty in the United States and assessing their impacts.
The Committee came up with four models that examined the separate and combined impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Child Care Tax Credit (CCTC), an increase in the minimum wage, roll out work advance, expanded housing vouchers, expanded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a child allowance, child support assurance, and eliminating the 1996 immigration eligibility restrictions.

The four packages ranged from an annual cost of $8.7 billion, $44.5 billion, $90.7 billion and 108.8 billion. The number four proposal which included an expanded EITC, expanded CCTC, an increase in the minimum wage, a new child allowance, new child support assurance and elimination of immigrant restrictions from 1996 resulted in reducing child poverty by 52.3 percent. It reduced deep poverty (people living at half the poverty level) by 55 percent. It also increased employment among adults living in low-income families by more than 611,000 and earnings by more than $13 billion.

The third highest cost proposal totaling $90.7 billion which combined the expanded EITC, and expanded CCTC combined with expanded housing vouchers and expanded SNAP benefits resulted in a 50.7 percent reduction in child poverty and a 51.7 percent reduction in child poverty. It increased employment among adults living in low-income families by 404,000 and generates about $2 billion in additional earnings. The costs of these solution are small in comparison to the costs of poverty to our country at $1 trillion a year

The commission focused on the 13 percent of children in the United States (9.6 million children) living in families that have incomes below the poverty line and that has significant long-term consequences on future health, development and the economy.

President & CEO Christine James-Brown, in a message to CWLA members said:

“CWLA will be working with other child advocates to follow-up on the findings as they relate to child welfare and child well-being. The CWLA National Commission for Policy and Practice has already identified child poverty as a significant issue to be addressed; John Sciamanna and the policy team have been working with the U.S. Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG). This coalition of a cross-section of children’s organizations will host a Congressional Briefing on March 14 at 2:00 pm.

In addition, Larry Aber Ph.D., Affiliated Faculty, NYU Wagner and Willner Family Professor of Psychology and Public Policy, NYU Steinhardt, who is also a committee member and I will present the report findings at the upcoming CWLA National Conference during the afternoon plenary session on Friday, April 12.

The report also includes important research and evaluations of various anti-poverty approaches that could help inform policy approaches in the upcoming Congress including marriage promotion, family leave laws, Medicaid coverage, mandatory work programs and block grants including TANF and a discussion of the limited data for American Indian and Alaska Native children.

Full report here https://www.nap.edu/download/25246.

There are several resources in the nearly 600-page report with links to:

Poverty and Disadvantage among Native American Children: How Common Are They and What Has Been Done to Address Them?
Accounting for the Impact of Medicaid on Child Poverty
Appendix E: TRIM3 Summary Tables
A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty: Data Explorer

There will also be a session on Friday of the CWLA National Conference. You can register for the CWLA Conference here.

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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