New Report Details 40% of US Children Living in Low-earning Families

More news about how the economy is affecting children and families: the Foundation for Child Development‘s new report, Living on the Edge: America’s Low-Earning Families [pdf], finds that 40% of all children-30 million kids-grow up in households in which their parents are employed, yet the family still struggles to make ends meet.

The report includes some troubling trends:

  • Rising inequality: Since the 1970s, the incomes of the poorest fifth of American households have risen by 16%. The richest fifth have seen their incomes soar by 95%, and income of the richest 1% has increased by 281%.
  • Stagnating wages in the middle: While productivity grew by 19.8% between 2000 and 2007, the median hourly wage for men went up by just over 1% . Median income actually fell over the 2000-07 business cycle.
  • Increases in low-quality, precarious work: The 60 million new jobs added to the economy over the last generation are very different to yesteryear’s blue-collar jobs. Nearly a third of all American jobs today pay below the median wage and do not offer health or retirement plans.

UPDATE: In other poverty-related news, the New York Times reports on a Pew Hispanic Center study [pdf] that shows Hispanic children living in poverty in the United States outnumber poor white children for the first time.

For more information:

  • Follow the Foundation for Child Development on Twitter @FCDusorg

Grant Awarded to Study Impact of Student Support on Immigrant Children

Researcher Eric Dearing, PhD, associate professor of applied developmental psychology at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and member of the City Connects evaluation board, has been awarded a 3-year, $150,000 Young Scholar award from the Foundation for Child Development (FCD) for his project, “Student Support in High-Poverty Elementary Schools and the Achievement of English Language Learners.” This award is the first for the newly renamed Center for Optimized Student Support at Boston College, which is dedicated to developing the most effective ways to address the out-of-school factors that influence how students learn and thrive in school.

Dr. Dearing’s work will be focused on immigrant children who are English Language Learners (ELLs) receiving student support through City Connects. Nearly 25% of schoolchildren in the United States are immigrants or the children of immigrants who are disproportionately likely to grow up poor and attend schools that are not properly equipped to promote their learning. Dr. Dearing’s study will inform policy decision makers on the value of systematic student support for improving the lives of immigrant children, in and out of school.

“Immigrant students who are learning English are the fastest growing group of students in US schools and, as a group, they face exceptional barriers to school success,” said Dr. Dearing. “From a research perspective, this award is very exciting because it will allow me to take advantage of natural experiments and quasi-experiments as evaluation tools, providing the first careful examination of whether systematic student support can be used to promote the achievement of immigrant children.”

Dr. Dearing will focus on four specific research questions:

  1. Is the achievement of immigrant children improved through systematic student support?
  2. Does child English proficiency moderate treatment effects such that ELLs demonstrate exceptionally positive treatment effects?
  3. Is the accuracy of special education referrals for immigrant children, particularly ELLs, improved by City Connects?
  4. What is the optimal constellation of student support services for immigrant children?

The FCD’s Young Scholars Program (YSP) focuses on understanding the changing faces of the nation’s children as reflected in the current demography of the United States. YSP seeks to support a new generation of scholars conducting research on the development of children in immigrant families from birth to age ten, particularly those who are living in low-income families.

For more information:

  • Follow FCD on twitter @fcdusorg
  • Read the full press release here (pdf)

“Income Gap” Growing for Middle-class Families

A report from the Foundation for Child Development (FCD) offers an analysis of the relationship between family income and child health, education, and social outcomes. Declining Fortunes of Children in Middle-Class Families (pdf) found that even before the recent recession, middle class families saw a drop in family income of approximately $4,000, while privileged families only saw a decrease of $139. The “income gap” between middle class and high-income families has expanded over the past 20 years, from $60,000 in 1985 to $93,100 in 2008.

The  report found that for middle-class children, public education and health programs have helped to provide supports and services that their families cannot afford, like access to health insurance and pre-kindergarten education. The report’s authors caution that in the face of government budgetary shortfalls, eliminating these services would have a negative impact on the health and wellness of middle-class children.

“This study is a stark reminder that policies we set today have very wide and real ramifications in the lives of children – not only children from low-income families but children squarely in the middle class,” said Ruby Takanishi, President of FCD. “The budget decisions we make in the coming months will have consequences that could last a lifetime.”

22% of Children Will Live in Poverty, New Study Shows

More than one in five American children will live in poverty in 2010, according to projections from a new report by the Foundation for Child Development. The 2010 Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI) shows that the estimated rate of children living below the poverty line in 2010–22%– is the highest in 20 years.

The CWI used 28 indicators of quality of life ranging from economic to emotional well-being; based on data through 2008, the report extrapolates that the “family economic well-being” measure will sink to its lowest point since 1975. This can be attributed to the effects of the global recession, which began in 2008, and illustrates the lag time that typically occurs between the beginning of a recession and its subsequent impact on families. Six of the seven quality of life domains in the study are predicted to reach their lowest points this year.

“Research shows that children who slip into poverty, even for a short time, suffer long-term setbacks even when their families regain their economic footing,” says Ruby Takanishi, president of the Foundation for Child Development. “This is especially true for children during their first decade of life. This means that, even if the recession subsides soon, the effects on these children will not. Unfortunately, we fear the worst is yet to come.”

  • The full CWI report is available here.