DefinitionThe estimated number and percentage of children under age 5 living in households with income below the federal poverty level.
NumeratorThe estimated number of children age 4 and under living in households whose income is below 100% of the federal poverty level as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Poverty status is determined by comparing household income to poverty thresholds (income cutoffs). Thresholds vary by family size and number of children under 18 in the household, and are updated in January of each year. For instance, the poverty level for a family of four in 2011 was $22,350, in 2013 it was $23,550. The U.S. Poverty Guidelines may be found at the [http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/ Health and Human Services website].
DenominatorThe estimated number of children age 4 and under in the population.
Why Is This Important?Childhood poverty has especially harmful effects on healthy development and well-being, including developmental delays and infant mortality. Children born into poverty are less likely to have regular health care, proper nutrition, and opportunities for mental stimulation and enrichment. These factors are especially important in the very earliest years of life, because childrens' brain growth and skill development starts at early infancy. Studies document that children who live in low-income and under-educated families start to score lower on standardized developmental tests by as early as eighteen months of age. Such early setbacks are difficult to overcome.
Due to their size, physiology, and behavior, young children are also disproportionately vulnerable to many health hazards. For example, the risk factors for childhood lead poisoning include living in a family with a poverty-level income. Studies have documented low blood-lead testing rates among children living in households with this risk factor. This measure identifies counties with higher percentages of children who therefore may be at increased risk for lead poisoning. When compared with lead-testing rates by county, populations with inadequate lead testing of young at-risk children may be identified in order to improve testing in these regions.
Healthy People Objective: (Developmental) Increase the proportion of children who are ready for school in all five domains of healthy development: physical development, social-emotional development, approaches to learning, language, and cognitive developmentU.S. Target: Developmental
Other ObjectivesCDC Environmental Public Health Tracking, Nationally Consistent Data and Measures (EPHT NCDM)
How Are We Doing?New Mexico is one of the most impoverished states in the nation, ranking near the bottom of all states in the percent of its young children living in poverty (49th in both the 2013 and 2014 Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT Data Books).
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?Over the last five years, the numbers of young children in poverty has increased in both the United States overall and in New Mexico. The percentage of children in poverty is higher in New Mexico.