Nearly 13 Million Children Are Living in Poverty in America

Early in 2020, it was estimated that almost 12 million children in America were living in poverty – a burden disproportionately affecting Black and Hispanic kids, as well as those living in rural areas. Then COVID forced even more parents out of work. Today, the number of children living in poverty in America is close to 13 million. 

The climate crisis is is also magnifying poverty in America, with kids from low-income communities and communities of color at greatest risk.

Children who grow up in poverty are more likely to have certain underlying health conditions. The poorest children also tend to have the fewest learning materials at home and experience higher rates of learning loss. And child hunger is worse in rural America, where child poverty is more persistent.

Rural poverty in America is an emergency. Your support today can give a child growing up in poverty in America the opportunity for a brighter future. Your donation today supports this life-saving work. Make a donation to the United States Program Support Fund or join Team Tomorrow to connect with the causes you care about - like poverty in the U.S. - through your monthly donation.

Where Does Child Poverty in America Exist?

Child poverty exists in every state and at every income level. But the poorest families experience higher rates of poverty in America and are struggling the most.

A 2-year old girl stands in front of a window at her home in rural West Virgina.
  • Nationwide, two-thirds of U.S. families are having difficulty making ends meet
  • 42% of rural households are having serious financial problems since the start of the pandemic
  • Families in Louisiana are hurting the most— the state ranks in the bottom 5 on difficulty paying bills
  • Communities of color are also more likely to be affected by job loss


Poverty in America Disproportionately Affects Black and Hispanic Kids

COVID has taken a tragic toll on America’s children. Too many are experiencing hardships and trauma that will echo through their lives and communities for years to come.  

  • In Maryland, Hispanic and Black families are almost 4 times as likely to face hunger compared to white families. 
  • Hispanic families are similarly disadvantaged in New York, where 38% do not have enough food, compared to 11% of white families.
  • In Washington, D.C., Black families are 6 times as likely to struggle paying bills as white families. 
  • Nationwide, 28% of Black households, and 24% of Hispanic households that rent, are behind on their payments, compared to 12% of white households.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in America

COVID has had a devastating impact on poverty in America. Children who are poor, children who live in rural areas and children from communities of color appear to be faring worst through the pandemic.

A young girl with a face mask stands in the hallway of a school looking stern.
  • The nation’s poorest children are upwards of 15 times as likely as the wealthiest kids to be hungry
  • Children in families making less than $25,000 per year are 4 times as likely to lack internet for remote learning
  • The poorest households are twice as likely to have lost jobs or wages during the pandemic
  • Poor communities are also getting sick with and dying from COVID at higher rates

Education Is a Proven Ladder Out of Poverty

Save the Children knows that early learning opportunities are so critical for children, regardless of their family’s income. That’s why, with your help, we work in more than 200 rural communities across the country to help hundreds of thousands of children every year. 

We design, staff and deliver high-quality early childhood education programs that prepare children for kindergarten, provide parents with the skills they need to support their children’s development, and foster the parent-school connection. 

Your continued support is needed now more than ever to keep this important work going. Join us in giving children growing up in poverty in America the opportunity for a brighter future. 

Learn More About Our Work in the United States

Sources: Facts and statistics about poverty in america have been sourced from Save the Children’s monitoring and evaluation experts, as well as our thought leadership publications, including our U.S. Childhood Report.


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