Child poverty in the United States persists despite a range of social services designed to reduce poverty rates and improve the economic self-sufficiency of families. The economic downturns resulting in job losses and the housing crisis have converged to create a new group of families who were managing to remain out of poverty prior to the recession but are now slipping into poverty, putting additional strain on services. In light of these pressing issues, this article synthesizes the literature examining child poverty to take a long-range view of the relationship between economic strain, system involvement, and impacts on children and the systems attempting to serve these children. The effectiveness of various policy and program efforts aimed at reducing child poverty rates and/or ameliorating the negative effects of living in poverty is reviewed. The article concludes by suggesting a major shift in focus from reducing child poverty as a singular goal to a comprehensive approach to promoting child and family well-being.
October 1, 2011