Why Are So Many Virginia Children Still Living in Poverty?

Jun 15, 2018

The number of children who live in poverty is coming down across the country. But not in Virginia.

Since 2014, the number of Virginia children who live in poverty has gone up 15%, according to Census data. During that same time, the number of children who live in poverty across the country has gone down 15%. So what’s wrong with Virginia?

Emily Griffey at Voices for Virginia’s Children says the commonwealth is famously stingy.

“We have more challenging eligibility rates for child care and lower reimbursement rates for folks to afford child care. So that could be a challenge.”

Downtown Danville. Nearly half of the city's children live in poverty.
Credit Miguel Gereda / Creative Commons

Frank Shafroth at George Mason University says part of the problem is the longstanding opposition to expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, a burden dragging down the statistics until the beginning of next year.

“Virginia was distinguishing itself in a bad way from other states by not providing assistance to the lowest income Virginians, particularly in Southside.”

Places like Emporia and Danville, where almost half of the children live in poverty.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.