Child and Youth Well-Being

Poverty disproportionately affects children. About one in five American children – nearly 15 million – live in poverty, and nearly twice as many experience poverty at some point during their childhood. Historically, this is an improvement: the child poverty rate fell to a record low in 2016. But childhood poverty has significant and enduring effects on children themselves and on the economy as a whole. Childhood poverty impacts achievement, health and mental and emotional wellness both during childhood and later in life. Because of the cyclical nature of poverty, many children who are born into poverty are likely to remain poor, particularly without access to high-quality education. From an economic perspective, childhood poverty is costly: some estimates show that it costs the United States over a trillion dollars each year. This section of the Spotlight website gathers the latest research, news and opinion on poverty’s connections to child and youth well-being.