Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Leading Child Policy Organization Responds to State of the Union Address
Security Tops President’s Priorities, But Not Economic Security for Vulnerable Children

New York — Millions watched as President George W. Bush delivered his State of the Union Address to Congress last night describing a second term focused on both domestic and international security, as well as the proposed privatization of Social Security. However, his plans to address economic security for the million or so children who have fallen below the poverty line since his first term began in 2001 were conspicuously absent.

The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) released new national figures and updated state demographic data at to report on the reality that millions of children of low-income parents find themselves without the basics, despite a majority of them living in households with working parents. Of the approximately 70 million children living in the United States, some 17% live in poor families and 38% live in low-income families. With the 2004 federal poverty level for a family of four at $18,850, NCCP’s research has shown that on average families need an income that is twice that amount to meet their most basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, health care, and child care.

“Based on the speech he offered last night, President Bush seems unaware that America’s future is in jeopardy because nearly one-fifth of our children are growing up in poverty,” said Dr. Jane Knitzer, executive director of NCCP. “Even more alarming is that after a decade of decline, the proportion of children living in low-income families is rising again, a trend that began in 2000.”

Child poverty is a nationwide epidemic. It can be found in suburban, rural, and urban areas and across all races and ethnicities. Often children in these families lag behind their more affluent peers in academic, physical, emotional and social development. And while traditional values of hard work and family have been on the president’s agenda since taking office, a majority of all children in these low-income families—some 14.7 million of them—have at least one parent who works full-time year-round. In addition, half of these households are headed by married parents.

NCCP asks President Bush to recognize that any positive vision for the future must include the well-being of children, who will one day serve as the economic foundation of this country. With 42% of children under age 6—nearly 10 million children—living in low-income families, it is critical that children have the basic necessities to grow and mature so they can productively contribute to American society in the future.

To see recent 2004 data on Low-Income Children in the United States, please visit To schedule interviews, please contact Mike Morey at 914-833-7093 or

The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy organization at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. Our mission is to use research to identify and promote strategies that prevent child poverty in the United States and that improve the lives of low-income children and families.