March 03, 2020

Congresswomen Lee, Roybal-Allard, Chairwoman DeLauro Celebrate Landmark Hearing on Child Poverty

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee hosted a hearing on a study from the National Academy of Science titled “A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty.” This landmark study was commissioned by  Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) with support from then-Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) and then-Chairman Tom Cole (OK-4) in the Fiscal Year 2016 LHHSE Appropriations bill, as the first-ever federally funded study on child poverty. Released last year, the study outlines a number of policies that would be able to cut poverty in half over the next ten years. 

“It is a moral outrage that in the richest nation on earth, there are still millions of children living in poverty. No parent should have to choose between keeping a roof over their child’s head and putting food on the table,” said Congresswoman Lee. “But for many children, especially children of color, systemic barriers keep them and their families trapped at the bottom of the economic ladder. As Chair of the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity and as someone who was on food stamps and welfare when I was a single mom, I know just how important this hearing is today to help inform our work here in Congress. A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty outlines evidence-based, non-partisan policy recommendations that can cut our child poverty rate in half within 10 years. We know what work must be done to tackle child poverty once and for all. We just need the political will to do so.”  

"I thank Chairwoman DeLauro for calling today's hearing to discuss the critical importance of combating child poverty, and I thank the expert witnesses who shared their views with the subcommittee today," said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard. "It is completely unacceptable that in America, the richest country in the world, millions of children continue to suffer crippling poverty – including many children of color.  That is why I was honored to fight alongside my Labor-HHS Appropriations colleague Congresswoman Lee to fund last year's groundbreaking child poverty study from the National Academies, which laid out a plan to cut child poverty by half in ten years.  We must build an America where we prioritize the welfare of all our nation’s children – where families in every community have the support they need to feed, shelter, and educate their children, and to ensure they receive quality health care." 

“Child poverty in America puts an immense physical toll and financial strain on our young people, our families, and our nation,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “Millions of children across this country go to bed hungry, wake up cold, grow up with less, and struggle in communities that provide few chances to succeed, to grow, to make mistakes without destroying lives. That is why we need to expand and strengthen the Child Tax Credit, as outlined in my bill with Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, the  American Family Act. And our Appropriations Subcommittee can address child poverty, as it provides some of the largest sums of discretionary funds in the Congress for the wellbeing of children—from early childhood programs and educational programs to labor programs that help connect people to the training and skills they need to make ends meet. As Members of Congress and of the Appropriations Committee, we will continue advancing policies that can help immensely and immediately.” 

The study was commissioned to examine the causes of child poverty, individual impact, macroeconomic costs, and the direct impact on both the federal budget and the nation as a whole. In addition, the study’s working group was asked to provide pragmatic, evidence-based recommendations on how to achieve a goal of cutting child poverty in half within the next ten years. As a summary of the study states, “The National Academies appointed a committee with expertise in economics, psychology, cognitive science, public policy, education, sociology, and pediatrics to conduct the study and issue a report. The committee’s report, A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty, concludes that poverty causes negative outcomes for children, especially if it occurs in early childhood or persists through a large part of childhood. Studies estimate that child poverty costs the nation roughly between $800 billion and $1.1 trillion annually in terms of lost adult productivity, the increased costs of crime, and increased health expenditures. The report identifies two packages of policies and programs that could reduce child poverty in the United States by half within 10 years, at a cost far lower than the estimated costs it bears from child poverty.”