WASHINGTON (January 2, 2002) -- The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) today launched a new national awareness campaign emphasizing the tragic reality that one out of every six children in the United States lives in poverty, according to the most recent U.S. census figures. Timed to coincide with the beginning of Poverty in America Awareness Month, the new CCHD-sponsored campaign uses television, radio and print ads to attract attention to the nearly 12 million children in America who now live in poverty.
Although poverty rates declined slightly from 1999 to 2000, more than 31 million people in the United States are poor and youth under 18 years of age still experience the highest incidence of poverty. The child poverty rate is actually higher than it was in 1979 and the U.S. ranks higher in this category than most industrialized nations. According to recent United Nations reports, the U.S. child poverty rate is higher than nations such as Germany, Italy, France, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Japan.
The U.S. Census Bureau considers the poverty threshold for a family of four to be $17,650. Other studies have shown that Americans believe the current poverty threshold figure is unrealistic. Recent studies show that most Americans believe it takes closer to $35,000 annually to adequately house, clothe and feed a family of four.
"December brings outpourings of good will and concern for the poor, but in January the nation returns to its usual routine and the poor are still poor," said Father Robert Vitillo, executive director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. "By focusing on poverty in
January, we hope to remind Americans early each year that poverty remains very much a part of American life. By highlighting child poverty in our new campaign, we hope to reinforce the need to start early in life to provide enough food, shelter, medical attention and education to our nation's next generation. If we are to break the cycle of poverty permanently, we must provide long-term solutions, not just stopgap measures."
Established by the U.S. Catholic bishops in 1970, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is one of the largest private funders of self-help programs initiated and led by poor people in the United States. Committed to the permanent elimination of poverty and injustice in this country, CCHD has supported more than 4,000 programs nationwide that know no racial or religious boundaries--projects that help create jobs, improve neighborhoods and allow people to find a way out of poverty not just for a day, but a lifetime.
For more information on Poverty in America Awareness Month, contact Barbara Stephenson, 202-541-3364, Bstephenson@usccb.org or visit www.povertyusa.org.