Monday, October 7, 2019

MassBUdget: Concentrated Poverty Affects 90,000 Massachusetts Children

  MassBUdget: Concentrated Poverty Affects 90,000 Massachusetts Children     
90,000 Kids in Massachusetts Live in Concentrated Poverty
New Data Highlights How Concentrated Child Poverty Persists Despite Economic Growth 

Did you know that more than 1 in 16 children live in concentrated poverty in the Commonwealth? Using recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Annie E. Casey Foundation's data snapshot, we examined how concentrated poverty has affected children across the state despite a long period of national economic expansion. In Massachusetts, living in high-poverty neighborhoods affects six percent of all children, and these neighborhoods are mostly in the Gateway Cities and the City of Boston. 
"Growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods has long-term impacts on our kids," said Marie-Frances Rivera, MassBudget's President. "All children and families deserve quality education, housing and access to opportunity. Investing in solutions that uplift children in poverty will create the change needed for
everyone in the Commonwealth to thrive."

Growing up in a community of concentrated poverty - that is, a neighborhood where 30 percent or more of the population is living in poverty - is one of the greatest risks to child development. Alarmingly, more than 8.5 million children live in these settings. That's nearly 12 percent of all children in the United States. Children in high-poverty neighborhoods tend to lack access to healthy food and quality medical care and they often face greater exposure to environmental hazards, such as poor air quality, and toxins such as lead. 

Financial hardships can also cause chronic stress linked to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. And when these children grow up, they are more likely to have lower incomes than children who have relocated away from communities of concentrated poverty. Children should be allowed to learn and grow no matter where they live or their socioeconomic status. Policies at the community and state level that can have a significant impact on the lives of children in struggling families include:
  • Fixing our "upside-down" state and local tax system so that those who have benefited most from our economic growth pay their fair share and invest in the public good to ensure a bright future for our children;
  • Providing equitable education funding so that opportunity is available to young people from all communities and backgrounds to give them the chance to succeed;
  • Ensuring that all our neighbors and family members have the same opportunities to thrive regardless of immigration status;
  • Investing in our public transit systems, roads, and bridges to allow everyone access to economic opportunity and jobs; and
  • Guaranteeing that all workers can earn decent wages to help keep a roof overhead, provide for their families, and receive dignity and respect from their employers.
MassBudget thanks the Mass. Association for Community Action (MASSCAP) for supporting our research on poverty and their work in calling on national, state and local stakeholders to act now to help families lift themselves out of these circumstances. 

Interested in learning how you can help combat child poverty? View the snapshot here and join the conversation with us online @MassBudget
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) produces policy research, analysis, and data-driven recommendations focused on improving the lives of low- and middle-income children and adults, strengthening our state's economy, and enhancing the quality of life in Massachusetts. 
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Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, One State Street, Suite 1250, Boston, MA 02109

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