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New Report from National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on Child Poverty

GCS worked with Congressional sponsors to secure funding for the new report on child poverty from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. See below for recent Politico coverage.

National Academies report offers ways to reduce child poverty by half

By Bianca Quilantan

02/28/2019 11:01 AM EDT

Child poverty could be cut by half in 10 years, in part by expanding successful existing programs that offer food and housing assistance, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The options outlined in the report would require federal funding of between $90 and $110 billion per year, researchers said, but they said that's lower than the cost of child poverty.

The study stemmed from a fiscal 2015 omnibus appropriations bill that included a provision directing the National Academies to conduct a comprehensive study of child poverty in the United States.

Researchers reviewed links between child poverty and child well-being, and analyzed major assistance programs directed at children and families including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the earned income tax credit and the child and dependent care tax credit.

"The committee finds that many programs that alleviate poverty — either directly, by providing income transfers, or indirectly, by providing food, housing, or medical care — have been shown to improve child well-being," the report said.

Researchers found that more than 9.6 million children lived in families with annual incomes below the poverty line in 2015, and roughly 2.1 million children lived in "deep poverty." It also estimated that child poverty costs in 2018 ranged between $800 billion and $1.1 trillion annually.

"Capable, responsible, and healthy adults are the foundation of any well-functioning and prosperous society, yet in this regard the future of the United States is not as secure as it could be," the report said. "This is because millions of American children live in families with incomes below the poverty line."

The committee's 600-page report identifies four packages of potential policies and programs, two of which they said have the potential to reduce child poverty by 50 percent and increase employment among low-income families.

The proposals expand on existing policies and programs, and add new ones, including a national job training program and a universal child allowance. Simulations of the packages showed that the "means-tested supports and work package" and "universal supports and work package" could meet the 50 percent poverty reduction goal.

The "means-tested supports and work package" combined expansions of the EITC and Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit with expansions of SNAP and housing voucher programs. The committee estimated that the package would reduce both poverty and deep poverty by half, at a cost of $90.7 billion per year. The package is also estimated to add about 400,000 workers and generate $2.2 billion in additional earnings, researchers concluded.

The "universal supports and work package" relies on a new child allowance, a new child support assurance program, an expansion of the EITC and Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, an increase in the minimum wage and elimination of the immigrant eligibility restrictions imposed by the 1996 welfare reform law.

The report says a child support assurance policy for single-parent families would set a guaranteed minimum child support of $100 per month per child, and the child allowance policy would pay a monthly benefit of $225 a month per child to the families of all children under 17.

It is estimated to cost $108.8 billion and would increase employment by more than 600,000 jobs and earnings by $13.4 billion.

The report recommends that the White House Office of Management and Budget coordinate an assessment of the conclusions and put together an implementation plan.

Sarah Corcoran