Return to World Ark Blog Landing
At Heifer International, we talk quite a bit about the families who are stuck in the cycle of poverty and what we’re doing to help them get out of that cycle. And though we don’t often think about it in the United States, this land of plenty and opportunity, there are families facing the exact same cycle of problems.

Maegan has already provided an overview of the report published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation on child poverty, but I want to dive a little deeper into the numbers presented.

The report highlights that the 2011 federal poverty level is $22,350 a year for a family of four. But research suggests that to meet their basic needs, families actually need an income of roughly twice the official poverty level. It would be the first step to breaking cyclic poverty.

To help children grow into successful, productive adults, their parents need good jobs with good incomes, stable housing, affordable childcare and health care, and enough assets to build a more prosperous future.

Here are some other, jaw-dropping statistics straight from the report:

  • In this country, children born to parents in the lowest fifth of the income scale are quite likely (42 percent) to end up there as adults.
  • At age four, children who live in very low-income families are 18 months behind the developmental norm for their age, and by age 10, the gap is still present.
  • 7.7 million children remain uninsured, along with nearly 12 million parents with children under age 18.
  • Almost 11 percent of the nation’s children had at least one unemployed parent in 2010, affecting nearly 8 million children.


But the finding that affected us here at Heifer was this: that the states in the South and Appalachia dominate the lower-ranking states. The 10 states with the lowest Overall Rank in terms of child well-being are all located in these regions.

Why did it have such an effect on us? Because that’s where Heifer USA will be implementing programs going forward. We can help change these numbers. Learn more about our work in the United States here.


Annie Bergman

Annie Bergman is a Global Communications Manager and helps plan, assign and develop content for the nonprofit’s website, magazine and blog. Bergman has interviewed survivors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, beekeepers in Honduras, women’s groups in India and war widows in Kosovo, among many others in her six years at Heifer.