One in three American children will live in poverty, drop out of school, or be abused or neglected before reaching adulthood, the Children's Defense Fund said Tuesday as it released its annual report.
"These shameful numbers have small, individual faces and feelings and suffering," said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the group.
Edelman used the occasion to condemn Republican welfare reform legislation that cleared the House last week, saying it destroys federally guaranteed child protections while doing nothing to help poor families get jobs.
The legislation would end the federal government's promise to provide cash support to every person eligible for aid. It would collapse dozens of programs into five major block grants to the states.
"At a time when nearly 16 million children are poor, almost 3 million are abused and neglected, and 400,000 drop out," Congress should not be cutting programs that aid children, Edelman said.
In response, Ed Gillespie, press secretary to House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Tex.), said local officials could deliver aid more efficiently than Washington.