The Senate on Thursday approved a measure calling on President Barack Obama to submit a five-year plan to reduce the childhood poverty rate in the United States, which is greater than in any other major country. The amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders was added to a bill reauthorizing a federal child care block grant program. The overall bill was approved by a vote of 97-1. “The United States of America is the richest country in the history of the world. Unfortunately, despite our great wealth, more of our citizens are living in poverty than ever before and we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country in the industrialized world. We have a moral responsibility to end childhood poverty in America,” Sanders said.
With 21.8 percent of American children living in poverty, the United States ranks worse than all of the industrialized countries with childhood poverty rates such as 3.7 percent in Denmark, 9.8 percent in Great Britain, 14 percent in Canada and 15.7 percent in Japan. “This is not only a moral issue of whether or not we protect the most vulnerable people in our society – the babies, the children, our future – but it is also an economic issue. What kind of future will America have if a substantial number of our children grow up in poverty poorly fed, poorly housed, poorly educated?”
More than 1 in 5 children in America live in households that lack consistent access to adequate food because their parents don’t make enough money. The number of homeless children living in America has gone up by 73 percent since 2006. Fewer than half of 3- and 4-year olds living in this country are enrolled in preschool, Sanders added. And 96 percent of infants and toddlers living in low-income families don’t receive the early education they need through the Early Head Start program.