California has the highest child
poverty rate in the U.S.

Child poverty alone is estimated to cost the U.S. economy more than $500 billion annually in lost productivity, increased health care costs, and higher criminal justice expenditures.

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What Californians are saying about child poverty

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How to End Child
Poverty in California

Impacting poverty of this magnitude requires an unprecedented and comprehensive investment in proven strategies to give all children equal opportunity to succeed. The Four Pillars summarize our approach to reducing child poverty in California by 50%.

  • Age 0-5 Focus

  • After-School and Summer Programs

  • Job Training

  • Community Approach
Age 0-5 Focus
Age 0-5 Focus

Research shows that many children born in poverty are already behind in cognitive development and language skills by 18 months of age. That is why services must be available to help low-income families as early as possible.

  • Expand existing voluntary home-visiting programs that provide prenatal and early childhood support services through in-home visits.
  • Expand childcare services to include all children under the federal poverty line who are too young to be in preschool.
  • Expand preschool programs to ensure that all children in families with incomes under the federal poverty line have access to preschool.
  • Offer financial incentives to help ensure that programs are of the highest quality.
After-School and Summer Programs
After-School and Summer Programs

Poverty is highest for high-school dropouts–54% of high school dropouts live in poverty–therefore we must do everything we can to support our children in school through services that create individualized plans involving families, teachers, and service providers who work collaboratively to best serve the needs of a child.

  • Expand after-school and summer programs for children ages 5–12 living in a family with income below the federal poverty line.
  • Offer children a range of services including after-school programs, tutoring programs, and childcare.
Job Training
Job Training

Nothing fights poverty better than securing a good job with a good future. That’s why we must offer high-quality job training programs that prepare our youth for the California job market. We must also offer immediate assistance for working families so that they can help their children succeed.

  • Link workforce preparation for low-income youth to the needs of local employers in high-growth markets.
  • Increase CALWORKS grants to better meet the needs of children living in deep poverty by supporting their parents.
  • Increase the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program so that low-income workers can keep more of their paycheck, thus increasing their ability to care for their children.
Community Approach
Community Approach

Census data show that poverty is concentrated in particular geographic areas. We can better support these communities of high need if services are coordinated to serve children from cradle to college and career.

  • Create California Promise Zones where services are coordinated and agencies collaborate, blend funding streams, and better align resources to help families in geographic areas of concentrated poverty.
  • Communities served by California Promise Zones will be those with high poverty rates, low educational achievement levels, low-achieving schools, poor health indicators for children, and high rates of foster, homeless, and disconnected youth, as well as other factors.
  • Provide competitive preference for state funding for programs participating with a California Promise Zone.


Based on extensive research conducted by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality and GRACE, a comprehensive, data-driven policy approach that will substantially reduce poverty in California was developed. Download the documents below to learn more.

Fact Sheet

End Child Poverty in California
Download PDF

Stanford Research

Why Is There So Much Poverty In California?
Download PDF

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