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Child Poverty Stubbornly High in Ohio

Among age groups, poverty rates in Ohio are highest for children younger than age 6. (Andrew Seaman/Flickr)
Among age groups, poverty rates in Ohio are highest for children younger than age 6. (Andrew Seaman/Flickr)
September 18, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- While the economic well-being of children in the Buckeye State has improved, new data shows child poverty is still stubbornly high in Ohio.

According to new research from the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 70,000 fewer children are living in poverty in Ohio since 2015. Brandi Slaughter, CEO at Voices for Ohio's Children, said despite a slight dip in the poverty rate, too many Ohio children are growing up poor.

"That's always promising, but we're not doing enough,” Slaughter said. "Children are the most poor in our state, and we have to do more to kind of pull them out of that and their families out of that."

In Ohio, 1 in 5 kids lives in poverty, 10 percent live in extreme poverty. And poverty rates are highest for children younger than age 6. Overall, Ohio ranks 33rd among states in child poverty, and 19th for total poverty.

Slaughter said the findings highlight the continued need to focus on policies that support struggling families, such as the Children's Health Insurance Program and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.

"All of those things go a long way to keeping families stable, keeping families working, bridging people out of poverty,” she said. “And if we begin to turn away from those investments, we're going to see these numbers flip."

For a family of four, poverty is defined as a yearly income below about $24,500. New Census figures also show median income in Ohio is about $52,000 a year, while the national median is about $57,000.

This collaboration is produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded by the George Gund Foundation.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH