A new study released through the Journal of Social Work estimates the cost of U.S. child poverty totals more than $1 trillion a year. The research, Estimating the Economic Cost of Childhood Poverty in the United States, indicates that these costs are concentrated around loss of economic productivity, increased crime and health care costs, and the increased cost resulting from child homelessness and child maltreatment.
The authors point out that the United States has some of the highest levels of poverty and income inequality among industrialized nations. They also argue our poverty is the result of a lack of political will that they attribute in part to our perspective on individualism and self-reliance.
Although they don’t talk about it, the recent emphasis of Washington leaders including the President and Speaker Ryan has focused on tougher work requirements in many human service programs such as SNAP and housing assistance as well as health care programs including Medicaid. In many instances these programs have high level of people working but the approach of the President’s executive order last week was solely focused on new work requirements.
Regarding child maltreatment the authors cite research that estimates the cost of child abuse at $124 billion in 2010 and they say that research suggests that 30 percent of children would not be in the child welfare system if they were not poor.
Just last week the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) released a report, Our Kids, Our Future: Solutions to Child Poverty in the U.S that provides a collection of over 20 papers that provide recommendations to significantly reduce child poverty and improve child well-being. CPAG is made up of more than two dozen national organizations including the Child Welfare League of America.
The President’s E.O., Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility, orders various federal Departments (Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education) to double-down and toughen work requirements. The President’s directive include: 1) a review of all regulations and guidance to make sure they are consistent with the principles outlined in his order; 2) a review of any public assistance programs that do not require work for benefits or services, and 3) a review of public assistance programs that do require work and determine whether the enforcement is consistent with the executive order.