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Policy approaches to reducing poverty and deep poverty among children

Millions of American children live in families with incomes below the poverty line. A wealth of evidence suggests that a lack of adequate family economic resources compromises children’s ability to grow and achieve success in adulthood, hurting them and the broader society as well. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine were tasked by Congress with conducting a comprehensive study of child poverty in the United States, and identifying evidence-based programs and policies for reducing the number of children living in poverty—including those living in deep poverty—by half within 10 years. The committee appointed by the National Academies to conduct this study produced a consensus report, A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty, from which the three articles in this issue are drawn. This article provides policy and program alternatives for achieving the poverty-reduction goals.


  • Current social safety net programs have strong poverty-reducing effects for children, but more needs to be done.
  • No single policy or program change would reduce child poverty by half within ten years.
  • Two policy and program packages can meet the goal of reducing poverty by half at a cost of $90–109 billion per year—much less than the estimated societal cost of child poverty.


Child Poverty, Children, Economic Support, Financial Security, Means-Tested Programs, Social Insurance Programs