Governor Newsom’s first budget proposal included notable efforts to address poverty—especially child poverty—by increasing CalWORKs cash assistance grants, expanding assistance to low-income parents pursuing higher education, and further expanding the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC, which he proposed renaming the Working Families Tax Credit).
California has a troublingly high child poverty rate of 21.3%, or about 1.9 million children, according to our latest estimates from the California Poverty Measure (CPM). The CPM is a joint research effort between PPIC and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality that, unlike official poverty metrics, takes into account the cost of living and benefits from social safety net programs.
While poverty rates in the state are also high, child poverty rates tend to be even higher, particularly in the most populous counties. For example, in Los Angeles County, 24.3% of all residents—but 27.8% of children—live in poverty. Altogether, 17 counties, 29 congressional districts, 21 senate districts, and 42 assembly districts have child poverty rates of more than about 20%.
State and federal policies play an important role in lowering child poverty. Our estimates indicate that over a third (35.3%) of children would be in poverty, were it not for programs like CalFresh food assistance, the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits, and CalWORKs cash assistance. PPIC research also shows that new policies could reduce child poverty even further, although effects vary across the state. We will continue to track and analyze poverty and child poverty to provide this critical information to policymakers and stakeholders.