Key Facts about U. S. Children in 1997

from Children's Defense Fund

February 11, 1998

In 1997, there were approximately 70 million children in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Child poverty

  • 20.5 percent of all children under age 18 are poor.
  • 11.1 percent of White children are poor.
  • 39.9 percent of Black children are poor.
  • 40.3 percent of Hispanic children are poor.
  • 19.5 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander children are poor.
  • 22.7 percent of children under age 6 are poor.
  • 49.3 percent of children in mother-only families are poor.
  • Of all poor children:
    • 62.5 percent are White.
    • 31.2 percent are Black.
    • 68.8 percent are in working families.
  • 68.7 percent of children live in two-parent families.
  • 27.0 percent of children live in one-parent families.
  • 4.3 percent of children do not live with a parent.
Child care
  • An estimated 13 million children under age 6 with working parents are in child care.
  • 62 percent of women with children under age 6 are in the labor force, as are 77 percent of women with children ages 6 to 17.
  • Nearly five million children ages 5 to 14 are home alone after school each week.
  • Only approximately two out of five 3- and 4-year-olds eligible for Head Start's comprehensive services were served in 1997.
Infant mortality rates
  • 29,583 babies died in 1995—a rate of 7.6 for every 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate for Black babies (15.1 for every 1,000 live births) is decreasing but remains more than twice that for White babies (6.3 for every 1,000 live births).
Low birthweight
  • 7.3 percent of babies were born at low birthweight (weighing less than 5 lbs., 8 oz.) in 1995.
Prenatal care
  • In 1995, 4.2 percent of babies were born to mothers who did not receive prenatal care or did not receive it until their last trimester.
  • 11.3 million children through age 18 (about 15.1 percent) had no form of health insurance throughout 1996.
  • Nine out of 10 uninsured children have parents who work, and six out of 10 have parents who work full time during the entire year.
  • 23 percent of children between 19 and 35 months of age are not fully vaccinated against dangerous but preventable diseases.
Gun violence
  • 5,254 American children and teens from birth to age 19 died from gunfire in 1995.
  • 3,249 children age 19 and under were victims of firearm homicides in 1995.
  • 1,890 children age 19 and under died in firearm suicides and accidents in 1995.
  • 4 million children under age 12 go hungry for some part of each month, according to the Food Research and Action Center.
  • 13.2 million children received food stamps in Fiscal Year 1997. Children make up more than half of food stamp recipients.
  • 14.7 million children received free or reduced-price school lunches in 1997. Only a portion of these children received subsidized school breakfasts, and even fewer received summer meals.
  • 7.2 million infants, children, and pregnant women received WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) benefits in Fiscal Year 1997.
  • 14.2 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds in 1996 had not completed high school.
  • In 1996, only 28.1 percent of White 25- to 29-year-olds had completed four years of college; only 14.6 percent of Blacks and 10.0 percent of Hispanics in this age group had completed college.
Teen parents
  • 512,115 babies were born to teenage mothers in 1995, a rate of 56.8 births for every 1,000 15- to 19-year-old girls.
Abuse and neglect
  • 3.1 million children were reported abused or neglected in 1996; nearly one million cases were confirmed.
  • An estimated 1,046 children die from abuse and neglect each year.
  • An estimated 502,000 children were in foster care in 1996.