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New Poverty Measure Could Help Struggling Ohio Families

March 4, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A new federal poverty standard could help more struggling Ohioans receive needed assistance. The Supplemental Poverty Measure soon will use new data and methods to understand the economic well-being of families.

Barbara Turpin, policy advocate with the Children's Defense Fund in Ohio, says the current poverty measurement is decades old and does not reflect reality.

"It ignores significant expenses that families have - such as day care, out-of-pocket medical expenses and housing costs - which have definitely increased since the 1960s."

The new standard will take those factors into account, along with current measures of food cost and family income.

Turpin says applying this new measurement could significantly improve these families' ability to receive the services they need to get by.

"Sixteen percent of all families with children are at the poverty level or below. I hope this will give a better picture of those families in Ohio who are struggling, even above $22,000."

The poverty level in Ohio today is about $22,000 a year for a family of four.

Another piece of data Turpin calls "startling:" One in five Ohio children under the age of 18 years of age is living in poverty.

The initiative to create the new statistical measurement is included in the President's Fiscal Year 2011 budget proposal.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH