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- Definition: Estimated percentage of children ages 0-17 living in families with incomes below the Federal Poverty Level (e.g., in 2014, 22.7% of California children lived in poverty). The Federal Poverty Level was $24,008 for a family of two adults and two children in 2014.
- Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey (Sept. 2015).
- Footnote: Data are displayed for geographies with at least 65,000 people based on 2014 population estimates. These estimates are based on a survey of the population and are subject to both sampling and nonsampling error. LNE (Low Number Event) refers to estimates that have been suppressed because the margin of error was greater than 5 percentage points. N/A means that data are not available. Some regions listed are Census Designated Places (CDPs), such as East Los Angeles; CDPs are communities within the unincorporated part of a county.
- Measures of Family Income and Poverty on Kidsdata.org
On kidsdata.org, measures of income and poverty include estimates of:
Unless otherwise noted, data are estimates based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Depending on the indicator, geographic breakdowns may be
- The Self-Sufficiency Standard, which measures how much income is needed for a family of a certain composition living in a particular county to adequately meet its basic needs, and the percentage of families living below the Self-Sufficiency Standard, from the Insight Center for Community Economic Development
- Children in poverty based on the Supplemental Poverty Measure, by race/ethnicity, for California and the U.S. only
- Children in poverty based on the Federal Poverty Level ($24,008 for a family of two adults and two children in 2014), by race/ethnicity
- Children living above and below the Federal Poverty Level, by income level and family type
- Children living in areas of concentrated poverty
- Median family income (the income level at which half of families earn more and half earn less), by family type
- Children living in low-income working families
- Individuals receiving CalWORKs benefits, from the California Department of Social Services
- by city, school district, and county (65,000+ residents), as single-year estimates
- by city, school district, and county (10,000+ residents), as 5-year estimates
- by legislative district, as 5-year estimates
The Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) addresses some of the shortcomings of the Federal Poverty Level by accounting for a wider range of benefits and expenses that affect a family’s economic resources. Poverty thresholds for the SPM are based on families’ expenditures on food, shelter, clothing and utilities, and are adjusted for geographic differences in the cost of housing. For more information, see: https://www.census.gov/hhes/povmeas/methodology/supplemental/research.html
For additional information about the differences between the measures of child poverty on kidsdata.org, please visit: http://www.kidsdata.org/blog/?p=6974
- Family Income and Poverty
- Self-Sufficiency Standard
- Children in Poverty - Supplemental Poverty Measure (State & U.S. Only)
- Children in Poverty (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Children in Poverty (Regions of 10,000 Residents or More)
- Children Living Above and Below the Poverty Level (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More), by Income Level
- Children Living Above and Below the Poverty Level (Regions of 10,000 Residents or More), by Income Level
- Children Living in Areas of Concentrated Poverty
- Median Family Income, by Family Type (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Children Living in Low-Income Working Families, by City, School District and County (65,000 Residents or More)
- CalWORKs Recipients
- Births to Unmarried Women (California & U.S. Only)
- Child Population, by County
- Child Population, by City, School District and County (65,000 Residents or More)
- Children in Rural and Urban Areas (California & U.S. Only)
- Public School Enrollment
- Total Population
- Community Connectedness
- Caring Adults in the Community (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- High Expectations from Adults in the Community (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Meaningful Participation in the Community (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Total Community Assets (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Early Care and Education
- Children Ages 3-5 Not Enrolled in Preschool or Kindergarten (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Children Ages 3-5 Not Enrolled in Preschool or Kindergarten (Regions of 10,000 Residents or More)
- Young Children Whose Parents Read Books with Them, by Frequency
- Annual Cost of Child Care, by Age Group and Type of Facility
- Availability of Child Care for Potential Demand
- Availability of Child Care, by Facility's Schedule and Type of Facility
- Number of Child Care Slots in Licensed Facilities, by Type of Facility
- Number of Licensed Child Care Facilities, by Type of Facility
- Parent Requests for Child Care, by Age
- Parent Requests for Evening/Weekend/Overnight Child Care
- Family Structure
- Households with and without Children, by City, School District and County (65,000 Residents or More)
- Family Structure for Children in Households, by City, School District and County (65,000 Residents or More)
- Children in the Care of Grandparents, by City, School District and County (65,000 Residents or More)
- Food Security
- Housing Affordability
- Fair Market Rent, by Unit Size
- Households with a High Housing Cost Burden, by City, School District and County (65,000 Residents or More)
- Children Living in Crowded Households, by County (65,000 Residents or More)
- Disconnected Youth
- Children Drinking One or More Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Per Day
- Children Who Ate Fast Food Two or More Times in the Past Week, by Age Group
- Children Who Eat Five or More Servings of Fruits and Vegetables Daily, by Age Group
- Students Who Ate Breakfast in the Past Day (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Healthy Food Choices Provided at School (Staff Reported)
- Why This Topic Is Important
Income and health are intricately linked. Poverty can alter children’s developmental trajectories in cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical health (1). The effects of poverty on child health can begin during pregnancy, as low-income women are more likely to experience risk factors such as malnutrition and stress, and are less likely to receive prenatal care (2). Children who face economic hardship when they are young, or who experience extreme and prolonged hardship, are at greatest risk for poor outcomes (1). The effects of poverty and the stress associated with it can be long-term, contributing to increased risks of dropping out of school, poor adult health, and poor employment outcomes, among other adverse consequences (1, 3, 4). The impacts extend beyond individuals, too. For example, it is estimated that one percentage point increase in child poverty could cost the economy an extra $28 billion annually in the future, due in part to lower future earnings among those who grow up in poverty (5).
The link between income and well being is evident even for those living above the poverty level. That is, research has shown a health gradient along the economic spectrum so that health status improves as income levels increase, e.g., the health of those in the middle-income range tends to be inferior to those in higher-income groups (3).Rates of poverty tend to be highest among children in single-parent families, those under 5 years old, and African American/black, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native children (4, 5, 6).
For more information on Family Income and Poverty, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. Evans, G. W., & Kim, P. (2013). Childhood poverty, chronic stress, self-regulation, and coping. Child Development Perspectives, 7(1), 43-48. Retrieved from: http://www.centrelearoback.org/inrich/assets/documents/INRICH-PUBCH-EvansKim_ChildhoodPoverty.pdf
2. Hamad, R., & Rehkopf, D. H. (2015). Poverty, pregnancy, and birth outcomes: A study of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 29(5), 444-452. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4536129
3. Aron, L., et al. (2015). Can income-related policies improve population health? Urban Institute and Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health. Retrieved from: http://www.urban.org/research/publication/can-income-related-policies-improve-population-health
4. Child Trends Databank. (2015). Children in poverty. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=children-in-poverty
5. Nichols, A. (2013). Explaining changes in child poverty over the past four decades (Low-Income Working Families Discussion Paper No. 2). Urban Institute. Retrieved from: http://www.urban.org/publications/412897.html
6. As cited on kidsdata.org, Children in poverty (regions of 65,000 residents or more), by race/ethnicity. (2015). U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey. Retrieved from: http://factfinder.census.gov
- How Children Are Faring
In 2014, an estimated 23% of California children lived below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) of $24,008 annually for a family of four, up from 17% in 2007. A child's likelihood of living in poverty varies by race/ethnicity and family structure. For example, statewide estimates show that 37% of African American/black children, 31% of Hispanic/Latino children, and 29% of American Indian/Alaska Native children lived below the FPL in 2014, compared to 16% of multiracial children and 11% of white and Asian American children. In addition, 39% of California children in single-parent households lived below the FPL in 2014, compared to 14% of children living with two parents.
In California, the median family income was $71,015 in 2014, and ranged at the county level from $44,616 to $127,470. In all but seven counties with data, estimates of median income were lower for families with children than for families without children in 2014.As an alternative to the Federal Poverty Level, the Census Bureau has created the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which uses a different poverty threshold based on expenses for food, shelter, clothing and utilities; it also is adjusted for geographic differences in the cost of housing. According to the SPM, about 25% of California children lived in poverty in 2014, compared to 17% nationwide. Among racial/ethnic groups with data, 36% of Hispanic/Latino children lived in poverty in California, compared to 12% of white children, 15% of multiracial children, and 17% of Asian/Pacific Islander children, according to 2013-2014 SPM estimates.
The Self-Sufficiency Standard (SSS), another measure on kidsdata.org, represents the estimated amount of money a family needs to adequately meet its basic needs. In 2014, the average SSSs for the six most common family types in California ranged from $43,354 to $63,979. Statewide in 2012, about half (51%) of families of all household types lived below the SSS.
CalWORKs is a welfare program that provides cash aid and services to eligible needy families in California. In 2015, almost 1.3 million individuals in California (3.3% of the total population) participated in CalWORKs. According to a California Budget and Policy Center report, nearly four in five (79%) CalWORKs participants are children.
An estimated 17% of California children lived in areas of concentrated poverty, where 30% or more of the population lives below the FPL, according to 2010-2014 data.
- Policy Implications
Family poverty has multiple causes and dimensions, many of which public policy can address. Maintaining a public safety net for children whose parents do not have the resources to provide adequate food, clothing, health care, and shelter can mitigate some of the effects of poverty (1). Other strategies, such as tax credits and parental work support, also have the potential to help lift families out of poverty. Preventing a child from growing up in poverty requires a broad policy strategy targeting diverse root causes. While California has made strides in recent years, additional effort is needed to ensure that all children have the opportunity to thrive (1, 2).
Policies that could influence family income and poverty include:
For more policy ideas and information on this topic see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section or visit the Urban Institute, California Budget & Policy Center, Center for Law and Social Policy, or the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Also see Policy Implications on kidsdata.org under Unemployment, Housing Affordability, and Homelessness.
- Restoring and maintaining CalWORKs/Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance and work support to families, so that benefits support an adequate living standard and families receive the assistance necessary to transition from welfare to work (1, 2)
- Ensuring that eligible families enroll in safety net programs—such as CalFresh (Food Stamps) and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)—through outreach and elimination of administrative barriers (2, 3)
- Maintaining and strengthening state tax policies aimed at reducing poverty among working families, such as the state Earned Income Tax Credit (1)
- Ensuring comprehensive and consistent benefits across public and private health insurance carriers, so all families can access high-quality, affordable care; this may include increasing Medi-Cal provider rates, reducing administrative burden on providers, and developing a tool to regularly monitor children’s access to quality care in Medi-Cal (4)
- Increasing access to high-quality, affordable child care in a variety of settings for all young children, especially low-income children, by capitalizing on the expansion of federal and state subsidies for early childhood programs and ensuring that eligible children receive subsidies (1, 4)
- Continuing to strengthen child support enforcement programs that work effectively with non-custodial parents and ensure that support reaches the families that need it (5)
Sources for this narrative:
1. Danielson, C. (2016). California's future: Social safety net. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from: http://www.ppic.org/main/publication.asp?i=1080
2. Schumacher, K. (2015). Even CalWORKs and CalFresh food assistance combined fails to lift families out of poverty. California Budget & Policy Center. Retrieved from: http://calbudgetcenter.org/resources/even-calworks-and-calfresh-food-assistance-combined-fails-to-lift-families-out-of-poverty
3. California Department of Public Health, Center for Family Health. (2016). Making connections: Understanding women’s reasons for not enrolling in WIC during pregnancy, California 2010-2012. Retrieved from: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/wicworks/Pages/MakingConnectionsUnderstandingWomensReasonsforNotEnrollinginWICduringPreganancy.aspx
4. Children Now. (2016). 2016 California children's report card: A survey of kids’ well-being and a roadmap for the future. Retrieved from: http://www.childrennow.org/reports-research/2016cachildrensreportcard
5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families. (2016). Office of Child Support Enforcement Annual Report to Congress FY 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/css/resource/fy2014-annual-report-to-congress
- Websites with Related Information
- California Budget & Policy Center
- Center for Law and Social Policy: Poverty & Opportunity
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
- Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University
- First Focus: Poverty & Family Economics
- Institute for Women's Policy Research
- MDRC: Building Knowledge to Improve Social Policy
- National Center for Children in Poverty
- Pew Charitable Trusts: Financial Security and Mobility
- PolicyforResults.org, Center for the Study of Social Policy
- Public Policy Institute of California
- Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity
- U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty
- Urban Institute
- Key Reports
- 2016 California Children's Report Card, Children Now
- Basic Facts About Low-Income Children: Children Under 18 Years, 2014, National Center for Children in Poverty, Jiang, Y., et al.
- California's Future: Social Safety Net, 2017, Public Policy Institute of California, Danielson, C.
- CalWORKs and Poverty in California: An Overview, 2015, California Budget & Policy Center, Hoene, C.
- Can Income-Related Policies Improve Population Health?, 2015, Urban Institute and Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health, Aron, L., et al.
- Children’s Health Programs in California: Promoting a Lifetime of Health and Well-Being, 2015, California Budget & Policy Center, Schumacher, K.
- Escaping Poverty: Predictors of Persistently Poor Children’s Economic Success, 2017, Urban Institute and U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, Ratcliffe, C., & Kalish, E.
- Five Facts Everyone Should Know About Deep Poverty, 2015, California Budget & Policy Center, Anderson, A.
- Five Ways Poverty Harms Children, 2014, Child Trends, Murphey, D., & Redd, Z.
- Geography of Child Poverty in California, 2017, Public Policy Institute of California, Bohn, S., & Danielson, C.
- Measuring Access to Opportunity in the United States, 2015, Annie E. Casey Foundation
- Neighborhood Adversity, Child Health, and the Role for Community Development, 2015, Pediatrics, Jutte, D. P., et al.
- Policies to Promote Child Health, 2015, The Future of Children
- Portrait of Promise: The California Statewide Plan to Promote Health and Mental Health Equity, 2015, California Dept. of Public Health, Office of Health Equity
- Socioeconomic Status and the Health of Youth: A Multi-level, Multi-domain Approach to Conceptualizing Pathways, 2013, Psychological Bulletin, Schreier, H. M. C., & Chen, E.
- The Ethical and Policy Implications of Research on Income Inequality and Child Well-Being, 2015, Pediatrics, Pickett, K. E., & Wilkinson, R. G.
- The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2015, 2016, U.S. Census Bureau, Renwick, T., & Fox, L.
- County/Regional Reports
- 2014 Solano Children's Report Card, Children's Network of Solano County
- 2014 Youth Wellbeing Report Card, Santa Monica Cradle to Career
- 2016 Kern County Report Card, Kern County Network for Children
- A Portrait of California 2014-2015: California Human Development Report, 2014, Measure of America, Lewis, K., & Burd-Sharps, S.
- A Portrait of Sonoma County: Sonoma County Human Development Report 2014, Measure of America, Burd-Sharps, S., & Lewis, K.
- Community Health Assessment 2015, Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health
- Fresno Community Scorecard
- Inequality and Economic Security in Silicon Valley, 2016, California Budget & Policy Center, Reidenbach, L., & Hoene, C.
- Orange County Community Indicators Report, 2016, Orange County Community Indicators Project
- San Diego County Report Card on Children and Families, 2015, The Children's Initiative & Live Well San Diego
- Santa Clara County Children's Agenda: 2017 Data Book, Planned Parenthood & Kids in Common
- Santa Clara County Public Health Department: Data and Statistics
- The 22nd Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, 2016, Orange County Children's Partnership
- The Wellbeing Project, City of Santa Monica
- More Data Sources For Family Income and Poverty
- 2016-17 California County Scorecard of Children's Well-Being, Children Now
- California Health Interview Survey, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
- Child Trends Databank: Children in Poverty
- Geography of Child Poverty in California: Interactive Map, Public Policy Institute of California
- KIDS COUNT Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation
- Self-Sufficiency Standard Tool for California, Insight Center for Community Economic Development
- U.S. Census Bureau: Poverty
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