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Forgotten Children: Poverty in the United States


Although millions of children in developing nations need help, there are many children and families living in poverty right here in the United States. Despite being one of the world's wealthiest countries, income disparity, lingering unemployment and a range of other challenges make life increasingly difficult for many children. ChildFund is active around the world, and we also work in the U.S. to provide a better quality of life to children in some of the poorest communities the nation.

A Serious Problem

The United States is considered a world leader in many areas. However, recent research suggests that the problem of child poverty is one of the most urgent challenges facing the nation. According to UNICEF's Report Card 10 study, the U.S. ranked second-to-last in terms of relative child poverty (living in a household that makes less than 50 percent of the national median income), faring only slightly better than Romania. Additionally, the U.S. has the worst poverty gap of any developed nation included in the study. The poverty gap refers to the disparity between the country's official poverty line and the median family income of individuals living below this line.

In its report, UNICEF compiled data on children who are deprived of at least two of the 14 factors deemed normal and essential for children living in economically developed nations. Items in this list include three nutritious meals a day, some new clothing, outdoor leisure equipment and age-appropriate books.

Experts believe that much more can be done to fight child poverty in the U.S. and that both the federal government and individual states must take greater action to address this urgent problem.

"Among rich countries, the U.S. is exceptional," Sheldon Danziger, director of the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan, told The Huffington Post in 2012. "We are exceptional in our tolerance of poverty. Basically, other countries do more. They tend to have minimum wages that are higher than ours. The children would be covered universally by health insurance. Other countries provide more child care."

Offering Hope to Children in Need

ChildFund has worked in the United States since 1952 and remains committed to making a difference in several regions. Although children of every ethnicity are subject to poverty, Native American, African American and Hispanic children are at particular risk. For this reason, ChildFund focuses its operations in the U.S. on communities in North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Texas, as these states have large minority populations.

Poverty is a complex problem, and a one-size-fits-all approach may not always prove effective. As such, ChildFund works closely with regional and community organizations in these states to ensure that the most urgent needs of children are being met in each area. As with our programs in developing nations, ChildFund places great emphasis on early childhood development, particularly initiatives that help children develop cognitively, emotionally, socially and physically. We also encourage families to continue cultural traditions through arts and crafts and other projects.

Thanks to the generosity and support of our donors, we have been able to make a difference and effect real change in the lives of thousands of children, but there is still an urgent need in many communities. To help ChildFund provide for vulnerable children in the United States, please consider sponsoring a child. For just $35 per month, you can ensure that children have preventive health care, mentoring and educational opportunities that will enable them to mature into healthy, happy and productive members of society.