How The Economy Is Hurting Our Kids

Children Of The Recession Art Option AP

Beyond those dealing with layoffs and plummeting 401(k)s, there's another group of Americans who are being hurt by the troubled economy - kids. And the problems the recession is bringing, including homelessness and lack of health insurance, are driving more and more children into poverty.

It's a heartbreaking phenomenon that CBS News will explore in a series called "Children of the Recession" beginning Wednesday, April 22, across its different outlets, including The Early Show and the CBS Evening News.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the number of unemployed or underemployed Americans has risen by 10 million since the recession began 16 months ago. The center also notes that changes in food stamp enrollment historically has been a way to track changes in poverty, and that since the recession started the number of people receiving food stamps has risen by 4.6 million, or 16.8 percent. Combine these factors with limited or no access to health care, and it becomes startlingly clear the hardships these children are facing.

An article in the New York Times also notes that social service programs that are beneficial and even lifesaving for children are being cut as well. In Arizona, the state child protection agency has cut back on its investigations into abuse and neglect reports. Cutbacks in similar programs are on the agenda in many other states.

Dr. Irwin Redlener, president of the Children's Health Fund, told the Times that what's occurring is a "quiet disaster."

"It's actually quite frightening," he said. "We're seeing very unsettling reports of increased numbers of children in poverty. Those numbers may rise from about 12.5 million before the recession to nearly 17 million by the end of this year."

Redlener, who is also a pediatrician and a professor at Columbia University, founded the Children's Health Fund with singer Paul Simon in 1987, in response to the homeless crisis the city was seeing at the time, the foundation's Web site explains. The two raised money and bought a van that they turned into a mobile medical clinic that went around New York providing medical care to homeless and uninsured children. There are now 37 mobile clinics, and Redlener plans to deploy them to areas where they are most needed during these tough times.

The topics that the "Children of Recession" series will cover include homelessness and poverty, abuse, foster care, education, medical health and psychological development.
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