CDF Statement on New Data Showing 8.1 Million Uninsured Children, 14.1 Million Children in Poverty in 2008

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Ed Shelleby (202) 662-3602

CDF Statement on New Data Showing 8.1 Million Uninsured Children, 14.1 Million Children in Poverty in 2008

Number of Children Living in Poverty Increased by Nearly 750,000

WASHINGTON - Today, Children's Defense Fund (CDF) President Marian Wright Edelman
issued the following statement in response to the Census Bureau's
release of data showing that, in 2008, 8.1 million children were
uninsured and 14.1 million children lived in poverty.

"Today's Census data show that there are 8.1 million
uninsured children in America. This new information only underscores
why health reform must guarantee that every child in America can easily
access comprehensive, affordable health coverage. We know that
investing in preventive services for children and addressing their
health needs now is far more cost-effective than ignoring them.
Communities incur increased costs when their children are not insured,
often because of increased use of emergency rooms and longer hospital
stays.  For example, an uninsured child can cost the community as much
as $2,100 more than a child covered by Medicaid or the Children's
Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 

"In this economic downturn it is no surprise that the number
of children in poverty has skyrocketed. The number of children living
in poverty increased by nearly 750,000 to 14.1 million-with poverty
being defined as a family of four with an annual income less than
$22,050-and the number of children living in extreme poverty-defined as
children living in a family of four having an annual income of less
than $11,025-also increased by over 500,000 to 6.3 million children. 
This is the biggest increase in child poverty since 1992, showing that
the recession has had a deep impact on our country's children.

"It is more important than ever to reweave our national
safety net.  When parents lose their jobs, children and their families
should be able to access the health coverage, unemployment benefits,
and early childhood development programs that they need.  Each year
that we keep children in poverty costs our nation half a trillion
dollars in lost productivity, higher crime and poorer health. It is
time for each one of us to commit ourselves to ending child poverty in
every corner of America."

Unlike the Census Bureau, the Children's Defense Fund includes
18-year-olds in their estimated number of uninsured children because
both the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid cover
children through age 18; this accounts for any discrepancy between CDF
and Census Bureau figures.

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The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) is a non-profit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for 35 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. We champion policies and programs that lift children out of poverty; protect them from abuse and neglect; and ensure their access to health care, quality education, and a moral and spiritual foundation.

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