Thousands of New California Faces of Child Poverty

For immediate release
September 23, 2011
For More Information Contact:
Kim Brettschneider, (213) 880-3922

Press Release

Children’s Defense Fund-California – contact:
Kim Brettschneider (213) 880-3922
Saira Soto (213) 276-8380 (Spanish-speaking)

Thousands of New California Faces of Child Poverty

September 23, 2011 

 Los Angeles, California — Yesterday the U.S. Census Bureau released new poverty data and the news was devastating for California’s children. With California hit particularly hard by the recession, almost 200,000 of children and their families were added to the rolls of the poor in our state. The percentage and sheer number of California’s children and families living in poverty spiked in 2009 and continued to climb in 2010. There are now more than 2 million poor children in the state.  Most devastating, over 700,000 newborns to kindergartners—the most vulnerable and defenseless age group—are poor in 2010.  Child poverty is increasing at the same time as key programs and supports for poor children and families have been cut.

“Californians should be alarmed by the fact that we lead the nation in the number of children entering poverty AND extreme poverty between 2009 and 2010,” said Kim Brettschneider, State Coordinator of Children’s Defense Fund-California. “We must not allow the future of vulnerable children in California to be compromised.  Together, Californians must aggressively confront pervasive poverty and demand that members of Congress, Governor Jerry Brown, and all elected officials take responsibility and act with urgency to protect children in the state of California. We urge the Governor and legislators to invest in our public schools, social services and health care to counter the effects of poverty and protect the safety net that California children rely on from further cuts.  We must put our children on a pathway to college, not prison.”

To give perspective on California’s shame:
• Out of the 3 million children under the age of 6 in California, 24% live in poverty. Among this same age group, 10% live in extreme poverty. Poverty is defined as an annual income of below $22,314 for a family of four -- $1,860 a month, $429 a week, or $60 a day. Extreme poverty is defined as an annual income of less than half of the poverty level.
• Out of all states, California saw the largest increase in numbers of poor children. In 2009, 1,846,741 children in the state were poor; this number grew to 2,012,585 in 2010.
• Poverty statistics are even worse for children of color. In 2010, 32% of African American children and 30% of Latino children lived in poverty.
• More than 830,000 children in California have no health insurance coverage.

Victoria Oseguera’s Family Hit Hard by the Recession, available for interviews in English and Spanish:

Life before 2007 for the Oseguera family of six was filled with weekend trips to the beach, and a savings for college.  In fact, Victoria Oseguera was even able to cut back hours at her accounting position for more time helping her four girls, Kimberley, 5 Luz, 7 Ana, 10 and Wendy, 13.  Soon after, her husband’s once reliable construction jobs disappeared and he slowly had to fill his days with searching for cans to make a few dollars.  Victoria used to earn $33,000, but now she struggles to clear just $18,000, despite working 30 hours straight some nights jumping from job to job, including passing out food samples.  “Staying enrolled in government benefits is a constant struggle, since our income keeps changing.  Thank God for my landlord, anyone else would have kicked us out by now.  We struggle to stretch the $170 in Food Stamps to cover two weeks of meals for six people, but usually we have to choose dinner instead of making our rent deadline. ”  Despite the closing of a video store that gave her steady work recently, and a hand injury that is recovering after surgery, Victoria continues to search for more hours, a full time job and the happiness and security her girls say they miss.



The Children’s Defense Fund’s Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.