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August/September 2002Vol. 3, No. 7Children's Defense Fund Reports Latest U.S. Child Poverty Rankings

The Children's Defense Fund's (CDF) latest poverty rankings based on new data from the 2000 Census provides information on how children fare in the nation's counties, largest cities, and States. The findings show that child poverty is a widespread phenomenon in rural as well as urban areas. For example, 38 counties, nearly all of them rural, have higher rates of child poverty than the poorest large cities (those with populations of 100,000 or more). Research has shown that poverty is associated with higher rates of child maltreatment. Poor children also are at a greater risk than non-poor children of low birth weight, stunted growth, lead poisoning, expulsion from school, being held back a grade, and dropping out of school. The report notes that child poverty rates dropped during the 1990s, a period of rising wages and low unemployment. As employment rates drop, those gains are eroding, according to CDF.

The report found that 14 counties had poverty rates of more than 50 percent. Those counties were in Texas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, and South Dakota.

Brownsville, Texas, and Hartford, Connecticut, which are among the nation's largest cities, had the highest poverty rates, 45.3 percent and 41.3 percent, respectively. Other large cities with high poverty rates include New Orleans, Providence, Atlanta, Buffalo, Miami, and Cleveland.

The poverty rates of all States and the District of Columbia were listed as well. In nine States and the District of Columbia, one in five children is poor. The District of Columbia's child poverty rating was the highest at 37.1 percent. States following the District with high rates of poverty include Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Texas, and New York.

For the full report, visit

Related Item

Read the following article from the July 2002 issue of the Children's Bureau Express:

  • "Two Reports Aim Attention at Children in Poverty"