15% of children in Washington live in poverty. That’s about 230,000 kids, or more than the combined population of Bellingham, Yakima, and Wenatchee. At least twice that number live in families with incomes above the poverty line, but too low to meet their basic needs.
Kids live in poverty in every city and county in Washington. Children in poverty live with their families in rural communities, in farmworker camps, on reservations, and in our cities’ neglected neighborhoods. But in some communities children are more likely to suffer from poverty. In Washington State African-American children are more than three times as likely to be poor than white kids, while Native American kids are nearly four times as likely to be poor. The rate of poverty among Pacific Islander and Latino children is two to three times higher than among white children.
Children living in poverty get a raw deal. They are often stuck in poor-quality schools and college education is out of reach. Fresh, healthful food is often the exception, because cheap, processed food is all that fits in a stretched budget. Early-learning opportunities are inadequate to meet families’ needs. Living in poverty is stressful, and kids suffer that stress along with parents. The increased stress of living in poverty has been linked to negative health impacts including higher rates of depression and chronic illnesses.
The Children’s Alliance believes that ending child poverty is a key to ensuring that every child can be safe, healthy, and has a real chance for success. All of the Children’s Alliance’s policy priorities relate directly or indirectly to the impacts of poverty on children.
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