Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Chair of the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families, Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Child Poverty Reduction Act to commit the Nation to cutting child poverty by half in five years and to implement an accountability framework to ensure we achieve this goal. U.S. Representative Danny Davis (D-IL-7) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“As Americans, we have an obligation to help families access economic security and help children thrive,” said Senator Casey. “With more than 15 percent of children in Pennsylvania living in poverty, the Child Poverty Reduction Act is a critical tool to help improve economic stability and security for children and their families. Every child in Pennsylvania and across the country should have the freedom and support they need to reach their full potential.”
“Ohio parents’ hard work so often doesn’t pay off like it should, leaving too many children with the odds stacked against them,” said Senator Brown. “We know that when we reward work and support parents with policies like the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, we can allow millions of families to lift themselves out of poverty and join the middle class. This will help us demonstrate how well these pro-worker, pro-family policies work.”
“No child growing up in America should be going to sleep hungry and living in poverty. But, for too many Americans, that is not the case. Child poverty does not just impact our kids in their early years, it sets them up for worse health outcomes and greater risk of homelessness, food insecurity, and unemployment,” said Senator Baldwin. “This legislation will help ensure every child gets the strong start they deserve, with an equal opportunity to succeed and lead a healthy life.”
“Children are our country’s most valuable resource, yet we allowed child poverty to more than double in the U.S. in 2022. This is unacceptable when we know progress is possible. The Child Poverty Reduction Act would set an official goal of cutting child poverty in the U.S. in half within 5 years, creating a mechanism to hold decisionmakers accountable to instituting lasting change,” said Bruce Lesley, President, First Focus Campaign for Children. “First Focus Campaign for Children thanks Rep. Danny Davis and Senator Bob Casey for their continuous leadership, and urges Congressional leaders to pass the Child Poverty Reduction Act without delay.
“Poverty is a defining feature of a baby’s experience, especially for children of color,” said Miriam Calderón, Chief Policy Officer at ZERO TO THREE. “Two million infants and toddlers in America—nearly one in five—currently live in poverty, experiencing material hardship and stress during the time of most rapid brain development. Poverty literally gets under the skin of our babies, with implications for future health and success in school and in life. We applaud Members of Congress for making this bold commitment to cutting poverty in half—a goal that is well within our grasp. We look forward to working with them to ensure all children have the resources to thrive.”
Due to strong federal investment—especially the expanded Child Tax Credit—child poverty precipitously dropped by almost half between 2020 and 2021, reducing from 9.7 percent to 5.2 percent—the lowest rate on record. Alarmingly, Census data from September 2023 revealed that the child poverty rate more than doubled between 2021 and 2022 to 12.4 percent following the expiration of these targeted investments in workers and families.
The Child Poverty Reduction Act commits the federal government to cutting child poverty in half within five years. The United Kingdom and Canada both successfully used poverty reduction targets to implement critical policies that halved child poverty. In addition, the bill charges the executive branch with monitoring our progress in meeting the target and directs the non-partisan National Academy of Sciences with analyzing how federal policies contributed to poverty reduction each year. Examining our success in real-time will inform our policies. If our policies fail to diminish child poverty, we need to do more. If our policies succeed in reducing poverty, then we stay the course.
Joining Rep. Davis to lead the House version of the bill are U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA-12), Sara Jacobs (D-CA-51), and Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11).