Leading the nation in child poverty

California is the nation’s richest state. It also has this dubious distinction: the nation’s highest rate of child poverty. 

Across the state, child poverty rates vary widely based on the region and a child’s family circumstances. Children who are Latino, have immigrant parents or are being raised by single parents are most likely to be living in poverty, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Child poverty was a big focus of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget earlier in the year before the pandemic. But most of those plans that totaled some $500 million were shelved when the state faced a shortened legislative session and a slimmer budget than anticipated because of the pandemic.

A bill aimed at reducing child poverty by half by 2039 also died in the Legislature this year. The proposal, from Central Valley Democratic Sen. Anna Caballero, was left behind when officials streamlined the number of bills they would hear during a truncated session. A 2018 state report recommended that increasing affordable housing and expanding the Medi-Cal health program to more children could help ease poverty among kids.