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Poverty Rates For Children on the Rise

September 23, 2011

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The latest information from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that over-all poverty rates have not changed much in South Dakota, but more children are now poor.

Joy Smolnisky with the South Dakota Budget and Poverty Project says more kids than seniors are below the poverty line.

"Our poverty rate for children in South Dakota that actually live in the households with their families is 17.5 percent. If we look at our elders, it's only 11.1 percent of people over 65, and if we look at adults age 18 to 64, it's 13.2 percent. That means that it's 60 percent higher for kids, the poverty rate is, than it is for the elderly."

Smolnisky says some policy changes need to be made to help kids and their families escape poverty.

"First is to make sure we have good policies supporting small business. Micro-enterprises generate a lot of our jobs, and we rank last in minority business ownership. Secondly, we need to improve our college attainability; we don't have a high rate of minorities accessing college, and we have some of the highest national levels of college debt rates."

Smolnisky says health insurance is also an issue for kids, with about 15 percent of South Dakotans unable to afford coverage.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD