Child Poverty

It’s time to commit to ending child poverty in New York State. It’s past time.

On December 15, 2020, the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy participated in a Facebook Live Virtual Legislative Briefing to discuss the New York Childhood Poverty Reduction Act sponsored by Senator Jessica Ramos and Assemblymember Harry Bronson. This event was the launch of our Campaign to End Child Poverty, our public announcement that we and our core partners are undertaking a campaign to reduce child poverty in New York State by 50% in ten years.

The child poverty rate in New York—and nationally—has been high for too long. New York’s child poverty rate has languished at or near 20% since at least the year 2000. During the Great Recession which began in 2008, the child poverty rate jumped to 23% in 2011, but did not lower to previous levels until 2018, ten years later. In 2019, just before the pandemic, the child poverty rate had decreased one more percentage point, reaching 18% for the first time in at least 19 years. In terms of child poverty, we are in a crisis that has lasted well over a decade.

“It took New York a decade to tangibly reduce child poverty after the Great Recession. We must do better post-pandemic.” – Dede Hill, the State of New York’s Children 2021 Virtual Data Briefing

The effects of poverty on children are staggering. Not only can it negatively affect their social, emotional, and cognitive well-being, it can create and widen disparity in academic performance, and increase the likelihood of child welfare involvement. The data we’ve gathered for our State of New York’s Children 2021 Virtual Data Briefing points to this terrible fact: without targeted policy decisions and programs this rate is not going to go down. In fact, it may continue to increase, especially as we remain in the throes of COVID-19. More than 700,000 New York children were living in poverty at the start of the pandemic. Child poverty has likely skyrocketed during COVID-19; New York State cannot allow this to continue.

What’s standing in our way of finding a solution? Simply put: at the state level, reducing child poverty is not a priority. And the problem is so vast, it takes legislators and decision-makers in multiple policy areas to agree on how to fix it. The good news is that this is what the Childhood Poverty Reduction Act will do: ensure state-level leadership agrees to prioritize child poverty. Since Senator Ramos and Assemblymember Bronson picked up the banner, a resolution began to take shape.

“We have the tools to cut child poverty in New York State. There are evidence-based solutions out there. It’s time to use them!” – Kate Breslin, the State of New York’s Children 2021 Virtual Data Briefing

If the New York Childhood Poverty Reduction Act is passed, New York will be the first state in the country to commit to cutting child poverty in half by 2030 with a focus on racial equity. How can we achieve this goal? Research shows that expanding and strengthening income tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Empire State Child Credit, could make more funds available to hard-working New Yorkers, including immigrants. Other solutions include increasing access to subsidized child care and achieving universal prekindergarten. It’s time for New York State to make this commitment to reduce child poverty by 50% in ten years.

There is new federal attention to child poverty, too. On January 14, 2021, President-elect Joe Biden announced his plan for a $1.9 trillion package that would include direct cash payments, extended unemployment insurance, rent relief, food assistance, keeping essential frontline workers on the job, aid to small businesses.

“These are the key elements to the American Rescue Plan that would lift 12 million Americans out of poverty and cut child poverty in half. That’s 5 million children lifted out of poverty if we move. Our plan will reduce poverty in the Black community by 1/3, to reduce poverty in the Hispanic community by almost 40%.” – then-President-elect Joseph Biden, Stimulus Plan Announcement

We envision a New York where no child is hungry, homeless, or experiences poverty. This effort is just the beginning of a concerted effort to gain as many allies as possible to get this bill passed.

It’s time to commit to ending child poverty in New York State. It’s past time.

If you’re a lawmaker interested in cutting poverty in half in 10 years, please co-sponsor the bill: S.2755/A.1160.

If you’re an advocate who is interested in cutting child poverty in half in ten years, please join the campaign.

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