More U.S. Children Living in Poverty, Report Says
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Time now for business news. Research on America's children finds that they're losing ground in several crucial areas, with growing poverty at the top of the list. NPR's Rachel Jones reports.
RACHEL JONES reporting:
The 2005 Kids Count Data Book finds that five of 10 indicators of child well-being had worsened since last year's report. In recent decades, there had been significant improvements in areas such as child poverty, infant mortality, teen deaths and low birth weight babies. But by 2002, the most recent year for which data are available, there were increases in each of those areas. Growing poverty emerged as the leading threat. The number of children who live with a parent who had not worked in the past 12 months increased from three to four million. Often these so-called hard to employ parents are hampered by issues like domestic violence, depression or prior incarceration. Douglas Nelson is president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which produced today's report.
Mr. DOUGLAS NELSON (Annie E. Casey Foundation): These are the families who are still on the welfare rolls. They are families that are--left the welfare rolls maybe two or three years ago that are coming back. They are families who haven't yet been able to reap the promise of welfare reform, and that is a path to work and to self-sufficiency.
JONES: There was some good news in this year's data. Overall, child death rates continued to fall, as did the high-school dropout rate, and births to teen-agers continued to decline. But Nelson says policy-makers should focus on economic and employment supports for families, because child well-being improves when parents can do a better job of providing for them.
Rachel Jones, NPR News.