In just one year, the number of African-American children living in “extreme poverty” grew from 686,000 to almost a million, bringing the number in 2001 to the highest point it has been since such data have been collected, according to a recent analysis of U.S. Census Bureau figures conducted by the Children’s Defense Fund.
The report, “Number of Black Children in Extreme Poverty Hits Record High,” is available from the Children’s Defense Fund. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)
Living in extreme poverty, as defined by the Census Bureau, means that a family of three would have an income of about $7,060, which is half the official poverty line.
A Washington-based advocacy group that has criticized the 1996 federal overhaul of the welfare system, the CDF says the analysis shows that the changes in public assistance have created a “dwindling safety net that no longer provides a shield from extreme poverty for many black children who need one.”
“It is hard to be poor,” the CDF’s president, Marian Wright Edelman, said in a press release accompanying the report. “It is harder to be an extremely poor black child in America when our president who says we should leave no child behind is proposing massive new tax breaks for the richest Americans.”
However, those who support tax cuts and welfare-to-work policies argue that the welfare changes of the 1990s have been largely successful, and that the overall percentage of black children living in poverty has declined from more than 40 percent in 1995 to about 30 percent in 2001.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison has received a $3.6 million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to study effective practices in school-based after-school programs.
The longitudinal study, which will stretch over four years, will be conducted by the university’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research, and Policy Studies Associates, a research company based in Washington.
Focusing specifically on underserved populations and students at risk for failure in school, the research will examine after-school programs that have been operating for at least three years.
The study is also intended to complement an ongoing evaluation of the federal government’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which is being financed by the Mott Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.
—Linda Jacobson firstname.lastname@example.org