Every day in New York City 311 babies are born. Approximately 54 percent of these babies are born into poverty and join 624,813 other New York City children who live in poverty. On any given day in New York City over 8,500 children are homeless and living in shelters, and 147 children are reported as being abused or neglected (Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, Inc., 2002).
In 2002, a family of three living on a household income of $14,269 is not poor, according to the national poverty levels established by the federal government. Therefore, this family is not entitled to federal financial assistance even though it takes two to five times their household income to meet bare-bones expenses in New York City (New York Times, 2002). Over 2 million New York Children under age 19 are at or below 200 percent of the poverty level (US Census Bureau, 2002).
New York State in general presents social risks for its children. The overall social health of the states is satisfactory, but New York fails its children by ranking poorly on reported incidences of child abuse and neglect and on high school completion. New York ranks either worst in the country on child poverty and last in the country on income inequality (Miringoff, Miringoff & Opdycke, 2001).
Over half of the elementary and middle school students in New York City are reading below grade level (Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, Inc., 2002). Educational disadvantages magnify for immigrant children who are nearly one-third of the total student population in New York City schools. Many of these children face academic barriers because of their limited proficiency in the English language. They often live in families whose socio-economic status prevents educational –enhancing investments – home computers, cultural events, tutoring and travel (Rivera-Batiz, 1996).