Harvard Educational Review
  1. Wasting America's Future: The Children's Defense Fund Report on the Cost of Child Poverty

    By Arloc Sherman; Introduction by Marian Wright Edelman; Foreword by Robert M. Solow

    Boston: Beacon Press, 1994. 154 pp. $18.00 (paper).

    Whenever I want to know what is going on with the nation's poor children, I turn to the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) for clear, unsullied information. Over the years that I have been reading the CDF reports, I have noted that their sources of information are impeccable — including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, and the American Psychological Association. Their expert sources include Urie Brofenbrenner on the effects of poverty on children; child development expert James Garbarino on the link between poverty and child maltreatment; and University of Michigan psychologist Vonnie McLoyd, who writes about parental stress (due to poverty) and child mental health. Using these varied and reputable sources, the CDF report dispels commonly held myths about the poor, who they are and the impact of poverty on their lives. For example, it dispels the myth that poor children are mostly Black and Brown, living in the inner cities. The real facts are:

    More White than Black children are poor.
    More poor children live outside central cities than in them.
    Rural children are slightly more likely to be poor than children overall.
    Poor children's families earn twice as much money from work as they receive from welfare.
    Most poor families that turn to welfare for help move off the rolls within two years. (p. xxi)

    Wasting America's Future also documents the effects of poverty on families and children, such as high infant mortality rates, stunted growth, crowded housing conditions, poor nutrition, and so on.

    In addition to the compelling evidence about the human costs of poverty, the CDF report calculates the monetary cost to the nation of not helping poor families and children. In the foreword, noted economist Robert M. Solow states:

    Now, possibly for the first time, we can save money by reducing children's poverty . . . more likely it is a gain to the economy, and to the businesses, taxpayers, and citizens within it. But that should be the icing on the cake. Nobody in this age is so callous as to think of children foremost as a source of profit —- at least I hope not. (p. ix)

    Child advocates, educators, policymakers, and lawmakers will find this latest Children's Defense Fund Report both valuable and enlightening.

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    Wasting America's Future: The Children's Defense Fund Report on the Cost of Child Poverty
    By Arloc Sherman; Introduction by Marian Wright Edelman; Foreword by Robert M. Solow

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