CHA News Article

Report Examines Child Poverty in California

The Public Policy Institute of California has released a new report addressing child poverty in California, focusing on housing costs, wages and the safety net. An interactive tool accompanies the report, allowing users to explore how changes to housing costs, minimum wage and the social safety net could affect child poverty statewide and in specific counties. According to the report, which bases its findings on the California poverty measure, nearly a quarter of the state’s young children live in poverty. It identifies high housing costs and low wages as key barriers to reducing child poverty. Other report findings include:

  • Among poor families with young children, 78 percent of adults work in low-wage jobs, and 31 percent pay more than half their income toward housing. Those in low-cost areas — mostly inland and northern regions — are more likely to work low-wage jobs, while those in high-cost coastal and urban areas are more likely to pay a large share of their income toward housing. Minimum wage increases and lower housing costs could reduce child poverty substantially, especially in high-cost areas.
  • The current safety net is limited in its ability to reach some of the lowest income families in the state. Devoting more resources to address this gap through, for example, expansions to the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit or a broad-based child credit could assist many severely poor families. Such approaches would have larger impacts on child poverty in low-cost areas.
  • The current safety net is also limited in its ability to reach low- and moderate-income families who are struggling but may not fully qualify for existing programs, particularly in high-cost areas. Taking into account the cost of living when determining income eligibility for work-based, child or renter’s credits would help address this gap and could reach those missed by current programs.