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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Editor’s Note: This post is Part Two of a series on the launch of the new KIDS COUNT Data Center in Washington State. The series is written by our colleagues at Washington KIDS COUNT at the University of Washington. The work of Kids Count intersects well with efforts of the Budget & Policy Center to highlight the importance of state investments.

Economic security is vital for healthy growth and development of children. Compared to children living in poverty, those with economic security are more likely to perform well in school, have good health, attend higher education, compete successfully in the labor market, and become engaged citizens. When children are able to realize their full potential, everyone benefits – families, communities, and the state as whole.

Unfortunately, there are many children in Washington State who live in families where a lack of economic security limits their potential. Prior to the recession, 15 percent of children (226,000) in Washington lived in families with incomes below the official poverty line, which is $22,050 for a family of four. Rising unemployment due to the current economic recession will likely send many more children in the state into poverty. That data is not yet available.

The highest rates of poverty in Washington occur for children who are less than five years old, live with a single parent, or are children of color. The map below also shows significant disparities in child poverty by county, with rural counties having the highest poverty rates in the state.

Tomorrow we will share data from the KIDS COUNT Data Center on the relationship between unemployment and the loss of economic security in families with children.

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