More than a quarter of children in California and about an eighth of children in some Bay Area counties could be living below the federal poverty level this year, according to a recent study released by a Palo Alto-based foundation.

The study projects that as many as 2.7 million children in the state, or 27 percent of California’s children, could be living in households below the poverty level at some point in 2010, according to officials with the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health.

The federal poverty level is $22,000 in earnings per year for a family of four. Officials believe families in California need to earn at least twice that amount to cover basic living expenses.

In six Bay Area counties – Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara – the number of children in poverty could rise as high as 15 or 16 percent this year, compared to 8 to 13 percent in those counties in 2008.

The study, done by Duke University sociologist Kenneth Land, followed trends from 1995 to 2006 and projects poverty rates through 2012.

Dr. David Alexander, president and CEO of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, said poverty affects children in almost every aspect of their lives.

Children in poverty are likely to have poorer nutrition, live in overcrowded or unstable housing situations, have less access to health care, and receive a poorer education.

Poverty is also correlated with family violence, youth substance abuse, and juvenile crime.
The report “is important for decision makers to recognize that the decisions we make are going to have an impact on kids and their health,” Alexander said.

“Our concern is the rise of children’s poverty is on a collision course with diminishing resources for safety net programs for children that traditionally have lived in poverty, so we hope there are resources to help these families stay in place,” he said.

For more information on the study and its projections, visit

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!