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- Definition: Estimated percentage of children ages 0-17 living above and below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), by income level and family type (e.g., in 2014, 38.5% of California children living with single parents had family incomes below the federal poverty threshold (0-99% of FPL)). The FPL 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 presented are for “own children” (i.e., children under 18 years old who are sons or daughters by birth, marriage (a stepchild), or adoption). 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, 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 (20,000+ residents), as 3-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 20,000 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 20,000 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
- 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 20,000 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
- Disconnected Youth
- 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)
- 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/Vegetables Daily, by Age Group
- Students Who Ate Breakfast in Past Day (Student Reported), by Grade Level
- Healthy Food Choices Provided at School (Staff Reported)
- Why This Topic Is Important
Poverty is a powerful factor in child development. It can alter developmental trajectories in cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical health (1, 2). Children who experience economic hardship when they are young, or who experience extreme and prolonged hardship, are at greatest risk for poor outcomes (1). Not only does poverty affect health, but also there is a health gradient along the economic spectrum, so that health status improves as income levels increase. For example, the health of those in the middle-income range tends to be inferior to the health of those in higher income groups (3). The effects of poverty and the stress associated with it can extend to later life, contributing to an increased risk for dropping out of school, poor adult health, poor employment outcomes, and low income (1, 2, 3).
Households headed by single parents or parents with low education levels generally have lower earning capacity and are more likely to be low income than other households (2). African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native children experience economic hardship at higher rates than White or Asian children, due in large part to a higher prevalence of risk factors such as single parenthood and low parent education (4). It is estimated that one percentage point increase in child poverty might cost the economy an extra $28 billion a year in the future because children who experience poverty tend to grow up earning less (4).For more information on Family Income and Poverty please 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. Redd, Z., et al. (2011). Two generations in poverty: Status and trends among parents and children in the United States, 2000-2010 (Research Brief No. 2011-25). Child Trends. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?publications=two-generations-in-poverty-status-and-trends-among-parents-and-children-in-the-united-states-2000-2010-2
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. 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
- 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. The percentage of children in poverty has increased by 31% since 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. Poverty status also varies by family structure. Specifically, 39% of California children in single-parent households lived below the FPL in 2014, compared to 14% of children living with two parents.
Median family income in California was $71,015 in 2014, but ranged widely at the county level, from $44,616 to $127,470. Families with children in California have a median annual income that is consistently lower than those without children -- about $12,000 lower, on average.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 2013, compared to 17% nationwide. Disaggregating by race/ethnicity reveals substantial differences between groups. According to 2011-13 SPM estimates, 36% of Hispanic/Latino and 37% of African American/Black children were living in poverty in California, compared to 14% of White and multiracial children and 16% of Asian/Pacific Islander children.
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) received CalWORKs benefits. According to a California Budget & Policy Center report, nearly four in five (79%) of CalWORKs recipients are children.
An estimated 16% of California children lived in areas of concentrated poverty, where 30% or more of the population lives below the FPL, according to 2009-13 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. Parental education and employment strategies, as well as tax policy and child support enforcement, 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.
According to research and subject experts, 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 cash assistance and work support to families, so that benefits support an adequate living standard and families can successfully transition from welfare to work (1)
- Reforming state budget, taxation, and revenue policy, which would put less pressure on social services during lean budget years (2)
- Ensuring comprehensive and consistent benefits across public and private 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. (3)
- Boosting CalFresh (Food Stamps) enrollment for eligible families, through outreach and elimination of administrative barriers (1)
- Increasing access to high-quality, safe, reliable and enriching child care in a variety of settings for all children ages birth to three, and especially for low-income children, by capitalizing on the expansion of federal and state subsidies for early care and education programs (3, 4)
- Strengthening child support enforcement programs that work effectively with non-custodial parents and ensure that support reaches the families that need it (5)
- Providing tax incentives and funding to enhance job training and economic development programs, targeting higher-wage jobs and industries that pay workers enough to support a family (4)
Sources for this narrative:
1. 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
2. Danielson, C. (2015). California's future: Social safety net. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from: http://www.ppic.org/main/publication.asp?i=1080
3. 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
4. Edelman, P. B., et al. (2010). Reducing poverty and economic distress after ARRA: Next steps for short-term recovery and long-term economic security (Perspectives on Low-Income Working Families Brief No. 15). Urban Institute. Retrieved from: http://www.urban.org/research/publication/reducing-poverty-and-economic-distress-after-arra-next-steps-short-term-recovery-and-long-term-economic-security
5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families. (2013). Child Support and Fatherhood Initiative in the Administration's FY 2014 Budget. Retrieved from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css/resource/child-support-and-fatherhood-initiative-in-the-administrations-fy-2016
- Websites with Related Information
- California Budget & Policy Center
- Center for Law and Social Policy: Poverty & Opportunity
- 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
- National Poverty Center Working Papers, University of Michigan School of Public Policy
- Pew Charitable Trusts: Financial Security and Mobility
- PolicyforResults.org, Center for the Study of Social Policy
- Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity
- Urban Institute
- Key Reports
- 2016 California Children's Report Card, Children Now
- A Fair Chance: Why California Should Invest in Economic Opportunity for Women and Their Families, 2013, California Budget & Policy Center
- Basic Facts About Low-Income Children: Children Under 18 Years, 2013, National Center for Children in Poverty, Jiang, Y., et al.
- California's Future, 2016, Public Policy Institute of California
- 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.
- Child Poverty in California, 2015, Public Policy Institute of California, Bohn, S., et al.
- Children’s Health Programs in California: Promoting a Lifetime of Health and Well-Being, 2015, California Budget & Policy Center, Schumacher, K.
- Comparing the Official and Supplemental Poverty Measures: Five Observations, 2011, Child Trends, Moore, K. A.
- Enrollment in Health and Nutrition Safety Net Programs Among California's Children, 2015, Public Policy Institute of California, Beck, L., et al.
- 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.
- Human Services for Low-Income and At-Risk LGBT Populations: An Assessment of the Knowledge Base and Research Needs, 2014, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families, Burwick, A., et al.
- Income Inequality and Child Maltreatment in the United States, 2014, Pediatrics, Eckenrode, J., et al.
- Kids' Share 2015: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children in 2014 and Future Projections, 2015, Urban Institute, Isaacs, J., et al.
- Knowing What Works: States and Cities Build Smarter Social Policy with New and Improved Poverty Measurement, 2013, National Center for Children in Poverty, Engelhardt, W., & Skinner, 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, 25(1)
- Portrait of Promise: The California Statewide Plan to Promote Health and Mental Health Equity, 2015, California Dept. of Public Health, Office of Health Equity
- Prosperity Threatened: Perspectives on Childhood Poverty in California, 2013, Center for the Next Generation, Fuentes, R., et al.
- Protecting the Safety Net in Tough Times: Lessons from the States, 2012, National Center for Children in Poverty, Skinner, C.
- 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 California Poverty Measure: A New Look at the Social Safety Net, 2013, Public Policy Institute of California, Bohn, S., et al.
- The Ethical and Policy Implications of Research on Income Inequality and Child Well-Being, 2015, Pediatrics, Pickett, K. E., & Wilkinson, R. G.
- 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
- 2015 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 Marin: Marin County Human Development Report 2012, Measure of America, Burd-Sharps, S., & Lewis, K.
- A Portrait of Sonoma County: Sonoma County Human Development Report 2014, Measure of America, Burd-Sharps, S., & Lewis, K.
- Children's Report Card, Sacramento County Children's Coalition
- Fresno Community Scorecard
- Key Indicators of Health by Service Planning Area, 2013, Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health
- Orange County Community Indicators Report, 2015, Orange County Community Indicators Project
- San Diego County Report Card on Children and Families, 2013, The Children's Initiative
- Santa Clara County Children's Agenda: 2016 Data Book, Planned Parenthood & Kids in Common
- Santa Clara County Public Health Department: Data and Statistics
- The 21st Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, 2015, Orange County Children's Partnership
- The Wellbeing Project, City of Santa Monica
- More Data Sources For Family Income and Poverty
- 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book, Annie E. Casey Foundation
- California Health Interview Survey, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
- Child Trends Databank: Children in Poverty
- Childstats.gov, Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics
- Community Commons: Community Health Needs Assessment
- County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute
- Diversitydatakids.org, Brandeis University, Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy
- National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Self-Sufficiency Standard Tool for California, Insight Center for Community Economic Development
- The Youngest Americans: A Statistical Portrait of Infants and Toddlers in the United States, 2013, Child Trends, Murphey, D., et al.
- UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, Health Profiles: Legislative Districts