Over 50% of New York City Children Live In or Near Poverty, Well-being for Many Children Has Not Improved Despite Citywide Gains


March 16, 2020

CCC’s Keeping Track of New York City’s Children illustrates the funding, community resources and political representation at-risk if all children are not counted in the 2020 Census

Over 50% of New York City’s children live in or near poverty, according to Keeping Track of New York City’s Children: 2020, the biennial report released today by Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York (CCC). Keeping Track is the most comprehensive resource on the well-being of NYC’s 1.7 million children and their families, and has the latest data on their demographics, economic security, housing, health, education, and indicators specific to youth, family and community well-being.

The 2020 edition of Keeping Track of New York City’s Children highlights how, despite improved citywide outcomes, children and families continue to experience significant disparities based on their race and ethnicity, immigration status, and other demographics including the neighborhood in which they live. CCC is calling attention to these disparities as the self-response period of the 2020 Census begins because Black, Latino and Asian children, children in low-income families, and children in immigrant families are the most likely to be missed in the census count. An undercount jeopardizes federal resources for programs supporting nutrition, child care, education, health care, housing, and others that are essential in the city’s efforts to promote positive health and development
outcomes for all children.

“The U.S. Census occurs every decade, think about what ten years means in the life of a child,” said Dr. Jennifer March, CCC’s Executive Director. “The census not only impacts investments in programs and services upon which children and families rely, but determines how many representatives are advocating for them in Washington DC, and what capacity states and localities have to address the needs of the most vulnerable. Given the concerns around access to health care and human service supports that are front and center now due to COVID-19, it is critical that we do all we can to ensure a fair and accurate count in this year’s census.”

For nearly 30 years, CCC’s Keeping Track of New York City’s Children data book has provided New Yorkers at large, government officials, philanthropic leaders, academics, and child and family service professionals with information on both welcomed and worrisome trends facing children and families across New York City. The report examines data from dozens of government administrative sources and agencies, including the United States Census Bureau, and disaggregates data by demographic groups to identify meaningful disparities that deserve attention in policymaking and public discourse. This data book is a complement to our online database at data.cccnewyork.org.

Key findings from CCC’s Keeping Track of New York City’s Children: 2020 data book underscore where more attention must be paid to ensure that all children are healthy, housed, educated and safe:

  • Poverty: While the share of children living in poverty has declined, more than half of all NYC children continue to face the burden of poverty. Poverty disproportionately falls on Black and Latino children living in households headed by single mothers.
  • Income Supports: SNAP caseloads are declining dramatically, especially among immigrant families who may remain eligible but fear that participation in public programs might threaten the pathway to citizenship for one or more family members.
  • Housing: The share of families with children returning to a NYC homeless shelter within a year of leaving is declining, but almost a quarter of families who exit shelter without a subsidy return within a year. For over a decade the growth in median rent has far outpaced income gains.
  • Health: Health insurance coverage for children is nearly universal in NYC, but uninsured rates are high among
  • Asian children and non-citizens. In some neighborhoods like Flushing, Bayside and Murray Hill/Stuyvesant, uninsured rates for children are more than double the city average.
  • Early Childhood Education: Over 123,000 children under age 5 receive publicly funded early care and education, but the system serves primarily 4-year-olds with minimal capacity for infants and toddlers.
  • Education: School segregation along race/ethnic lines is widespread, and the achievement gap persists with students in poverty, students with disabilities, and English language learners facing significant obstacles to success.
  • Child Welfare: The number of children in foster care is at a historic low with just over 8,400 children in care; yet, Black and Latino children continue to be disproportionately represented in the foster care system at 90%.

“The census is critical in planning and developing the community-based infrastructure and programs that children and their families depend on,” said Dr. Bijan Kimiagar, CCC’s Associate Executive Director for Research. “An undercount of young children would be particularly harmful as it results in reduced resources for critical programs such as SNAP, public housing, child care, and Medicaid, among others and would limit the ability of city and state agencies to forecast demand for new schools, hospital emergency rooms, public transportation, and more. A fair and accurate census count in 2020 ensures that the City of New York and all its residents have the resources and representation that they require and are needed to thrive over the next decade.”

Almost five million New Yorkers live in a community designated hard-to-count, and there are more than half a million NYC children under the age of five – the single demographic group most likely to be undercounted. Approximately 70,000 NYC children were missed in the last census in 2010.

Keeping Track of New York City’s Children: 2020 identifies the key factors that put young children at risk of being undercounted in the 2020 Census:

  • Almost half of NYC’s children (45%) are growing up in “complex” household structures, such as a household headed by a single parent, grandparent or other guardian, which may lead to undercount when families don’t realize the children should be counted.
  • More than half of all children in New York City have at least one immigrant parent, which may lead to undercount due to concerns about a lack of privacy and government targeting.
  • More than 200,000 children under five live in low-income households
  • Nearly 50,000 children under five live in households with no internet
  • More than 70,000 children under five lived at a different address one year ago
  • Nearly 80,000 children under five live in households with seven or more people
  • More than 80,000 children under five live in households where no one over age 13 speaks English “very well”

The urgency of ensuring a fair and accurate census count could not be more pressing. Ahead of the 2020 census, CCC has launched Every Child Counts NYC! campaign to mobilize families, especially those with young children, to participate in the census. This campaign includes resources and trainings, including webinars on the undercount of young children and tools for community members and tools to equip child-serving professionals and community leaders to tackle fear and mistrust of government, as well as language barriers, in order to participate in the census. The multi-faceted framework can be adapted by other community organizations, child-serving professionals and advocates.

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About Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York 
Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York educates and mobilizes New Yorkers to make the city a better place for children. Since 1944, our advocacy has combined public policy research and data analysis with citizen action. We cast light on the issues, educate the public, engage allies, and identify and promote practical solutions to ensure that every New York City child is healthy, housed, educated and safe. For more information on CCC, visit our web site at www.cccnewyork.org. Stay up to date on the latest news and information regarding the well-being of New York City’s children by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

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