Enduring Struggles: Poverty in the United States

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Posted on 9/24/2013


United States children take part in a reading program supported by ChildFund.
United States children take part in a reading program supported by ChildFund.

ChildFund works in some of the poorest nations in the world, but poverty is also a serious problem in some regions of the United States. During the past several years, difficult employment conditions, steadily increasing costs of living and other factors have plunged millions of families into poverty and made conditions worse for those who already were below the poverty line. As a result, many children face an uncertain future.

ChildFund concentrates much of its work in the United States in areas with large minority populations, where unemployment rates, lack of access to high-quality education and unstable homes are higher than average. Child poverty is between 40 percent and 70 percent, much higher than in more prosperous areas of the country. Although many economists believe the American economy is recovering from the recession, new data suggests that the road ahead will be long for many families who were already struggling before the downturn.

Mired in Poverty

A report published recently by the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that the poverty level in the United States has remained at roughly 15 percent for the third consecutive year. Almost one in six Americans was living in poverty last year, and for many families, the outlook is bleak, despite signs of overall economic recovery.

Approximately 46 million people live in poverty across the United States. Federal poverty guidelines state that a family of four is considered to be living in poverty if their household income is $23,283 or less, not including government benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps.

Job creation is a key priority for the government, but according to NPR, many of the employment opportunities created since the end of the recession have been in traditionally low-paying occupations such as food service and retail. Many families simply cannot afford to support their children in these jobs, and many are struggling to find work at all. Single mothers, African Americans, American Indians and Hispanics remain the most disadvantaged demographic groups in many parts of the country.

A Country of Contrasts

ChildFund has worked in the United States since 1952, and despite the fact that America is one of the world's wealthiest nations, poverty levels across the United States are among the highest of any developed nation. Although much progress has been made to reduce child poverty since we began operations in America during the 1950s, the sobering truth remains that one in five American children live in poverty.

Our child sponsorship programs are in five states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Texas. These states have large minority populations living in poverty, which is why we dedicate many of our resources to serving these areas. The generosity of our child sponsors makes a huge difference in the lives of children in need in these states, and for just $35 per month, you can help a boy or girl receive the support he or she needs to thrive, such as nutritious food, access to health care and educational opportunities.

There are other ways you can help children in need across the United States. Poverty not only robs children of the essentials they need to survive, it also deprives them of the chance to enjoy their childhood and experience cultural milestones such as birthday parties. For this reason, ChildFund launched a special project to provide children living in our focus areas with mobile celebrations to commemorate their birthdays.

This project aims to provide 60 mobile celebrations for children living in five communities across the United States. We aim to raise a total of $6,435 to give families everything they need to hold a memorable birthday party, such as ingredients and kitchen utensils for birthday cakes, supplies to make piñatas, party favors, balloons, candy and toys.

Please consider helping ChildFund make a difference in the lives of American children living in poverty by becoming a child sponsor or donating to this special project today.