High rates of child poverty exist in the United States even in the best of times, and this poverty tends to limit the health, education, and earnings of adults who grew up poor throughout their lives. This creates costs not only for the individuals themselves and their families, but for the U.S. economy as a whole. The current recession will raise child poverty rates substantially and for many years to come, thus exacerbating these problems. Even short spells of poverty or parental unemployment can scar children and youth for many years. Policies that tend to limit child poverty in the next few years by strengthening the safety net, raising employment, or improving the skills of disadvantaged children and youth might thus have a high social payoff over time.