The Children's Defense Fund Cradle to Prison Pipeline® Campaign is a national and community crusade to engage families, youths, communities and policy makers in the development of healthy, safe and educated children. Poverty, racial disparities and a culture of punishment rather than prevention and early intervention are key forces driving the
Poor children lag behind their peers in many ways beyond income; they are less healthy, trail in emotional and intellectual development, and do not perform as well in school. The challenges that poor children face accumulate and interact, casting long shadows throughout their lives.
Every year that we keep children in poverty costs our nation half a trillion dollars in lost productivity, poorer health and increased crime.
In Pennsylvania among all children, 1 in 6 (16.3 percent or 446,832) is poor.
For White, non-Latino children, 1 in 9 (11.1 percent or 235,275) is poor.
For Asian/Pacific Islander children, 1 in 7 (13.8 percent or 9,560) is poor.
For American Indian/Alaska Native children, 1 in 5 (19.0 percent or 720) is poor.
For Black children, 3 in 8 (36.4 percent or 131,784) are poor.
For Latino children, 2 in 5 (40.0 percent or 79,143) are poor.
The United States is the wealthiest nation in the world, yet children’s health status in our country is among the worst in the industrialized world.
In 2007, an estimated 226,000 children (7.6 percent) were uninsured in Pennsylvania.
In 2006, 12,562 babies (8.5 percent) were born at low birthweight in Pennsylvania. This included:
7.4 percent of White, non-Latino babies.
8.7 percent of Latino babies.
14.0 percent of Black, non-Latino babies.
Early Childhood Education
Studies reveal that those enrolled in high quality early childhood education programs are more likely to complete higher levels of education, have higher earnings, be in better health and be in stable relationships, and are less likely to commit a crime or be incarcerated. Yet many children are not enrolled in these programs.
In the 2006-2007 school year, 15.9 percent of 3-year-olds and 27.2 percent of 4-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded preschool programs in Pennsylvania.
In 2005-2006, 35,362 children were enrolled in Head Start and Early Head Start in Pennsylvania. Of these:
13.4 percent were Latino.
35.6 percent were Black, non Latino.
47.8 percent were White, non-Latino.
Attainment of a high school diploma is the single most effective preventive strategy against adult poverty. Yet a significant number of students do not graduate on time with a regular diploma.
In 2007, a disproportionate number of Black and Latino fourth graders could not read or do math at grade level.
53 percent of White, non-Latino 4th graders cannot read at grade level.
85 percent of Latino 4th graders cannot read at grade level.
87 percent of Black, non-Latino 4th graders cannot read at grade level.
47 percent of White, non-Latino 4th graders cannot do math at grade level.
72 percent of Latino 4th graders cannot do math at grade level.
82 percent of Black, non-Latino 4th graders cannot do math at grade level.
Students who are suspended or expelled are more likely than their peers to drop out of school altogether.
For every 100 Asian/Pacific Islander students enrolled in the public schools, there were 2.7 suspensions.
For every 100 American Indian/Alaska Native students enrolled in the public schools, there were 3.4 suspensions.
For every 100 White students enrolled in the public schools, there were 4.2 suspensions.
For every 100 Latino students enrolled in the public schools, there were 8.7 suspensions.
For every 100 Black students enrolled in the public schools, there were 18.9 suspensions.
In Pennsylvania, 5.5 percent of youths ages 16 to 19 were neither enrolled in school nor high school graduates.
Juvenile Justice System and Incarceration
States spend about 2.8 times as much money per prisoner as per public school pupil. Unless we focus our efforts on early intervention and prevention, rather than punishment, we are robbing thousands of youths each year of their futures and our country of vital human resources.
In Pennsylvania, there were 106,572 juvenile arrests in 2007.
Of the 4,323 youths in residential placement in Pennsylvania in 2006:
447 (10.3 percent) were Latino.
1,419 (32.8 percent) were White, non-Latino.
2,328 (53.9 percent) were Black, non-Latino.
There were 60 youths under age 18 incarcerated in adult correctional facilities in Pennsylvania in 2007.
Pennsylvania spends 3.4 times as much per prisoner as per public school student.
The eight children and teens killed by gun violence each day in our nation is the equivalent of one Northern Illinois University shooting every 15 hours or one Virginia Tech shooting every four days. Yet, unfortunately, it takes tragic events like these to remind us that gun violence in America has reached an epidemic level.
In 2005, 138 children and teens in Pennsylvania died of firearm injuries.
At crucial points in these children’s development, from birth through adulthood, more risks and disadvantages cumulate and converge to make a successful transition to productive adulthood significantly less likely and involvement in the criminal justice system more likely.
We have no time to waste.
It is time to step up and take action.
Together, we can and will make a difference.
For more information on the Cradle to Prison Pipeline, please visit www.childrensdefense.org or contact Natacha Blain, Lead Strategic Advisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 662-3544.