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(Raleigh, NC)-Action for Children North Carolina, a leading statewide child policy and advocacy organization, issued the following comments regarding this morning’s release of poverty and health insurance data from the 2011 Current Population Survey: 

Last year, one in four children in North Carolina lived in poverty. Decades of reliable research show poverty, particularly when experienced during the critical period between birth and age five, endangers children’s growth and development, undermines academic achievement and dims children’s future life prospects.    

These data showcase the value of strategic public policy interventions to protect the well-being of North Carolina’s most vulnerable population, our children. Although children’s private insurance participation declined (54.5 percent, down 1.8 percentage points from 2008-2010), and fewer children under the age of 18 were covered by employer-sponsored health insurance obtained through their parents (50.4 percent, down 1.2 percentage points from 2008-2010), 89.9 percent of children in North Carolina had access to health insurance from 2009-2011, remaining stable from 2008-2010.

When North Carolina families needed help the most, access to the medical insurance required to keep children in good health was expanded by Medicaid and N.C. Health Choice, the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program. More than four in ten North Carolina children (42.8 percent) received coverage through public health insurance programs from 2009-2011, up 2.1 percentage points from 2008-2010. 

While these data show public health insurance programs helped fill gaps in children’s coverage caused by declining private and employer-sponsored health insurance, far too many children in North Carolina remain uninsured (10.1 percent, unchanged from 2008-2010).  

In a few months a newly elected Governor and General Assembly will develop budget proposals to help steer North Carolina’s continued recovery from the economic downturn.  It is important that our elected leaders use this data to drive decision-making and support programs that protect North Carolina children from the negative impacts of poverty. Investments like high-quality early learning opportunities, broad access to health insurance coverage and tax relief for low-income working families do more than support the current well-being of children in North Carolina; they ensure our state has the fundamental building blocks of a robust 21st century economy.

About This Data

The Current Population Survey (CPS) produces the official annual estimate of poverty for the nation, and offers a preliminary look at poverty at the state level. The Census Bureau recommends the American Community Survey (ACS), which surveys more households throughout the year, for state and community-level estimates of poverty. Data from the CPS and ACS are not comparable. Single-year ACS estimates will be released Thursday, September 20, 2012. For more information about the appropriate use of CPS and ACS data, view the following Census Bureau Fact Sheet:http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/datasources/factsheet.html 

Action for Children will release detailed analysis of the implications of today’s health insurance estimates for children in North Carolina.

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