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Modern-Day Look at Poverty in Idaho Shows Programs Work

PHOTO: An updated look at measuring poverty in Idaho shows when the effects of state and federal programs are taken into account, the number of children in poverty drops by 77,000. Photo credit: mcconnmama/pixabay.com
PHOTO: An updated look at measuring poverty in Idaho shows when the effects of state and federal programs are taken into account, the number of children in poverty drops by 77,000. Photo credit: mcconnmama/pixabay.com
February 25, 2015

BOISE, Idaho - Idaho families experiencing tough economic times are faring better than previously reported.

New research released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation examines child poverty with a tool from the U.S. Census Bureau that is more detailed than the federal standard, and it finds federal and state government programs and policies have helped keep 77,000 kids above the poverty line over three years.

The poverty rate in Idaho is 10 percent using the new tool and 28 percent under the old measure. Jim Munkres, communications director with Idaho Voices for Children, says accuracy is important.

"It's very important to us that all of our tax dollars are being spent wisely and prudently," Munkres says. "And in a way that creates the most impact for the kids of Idaho."

He explains, the federal standard poverty measure is nearly 50 years old and doesn't reflect assistance to families or modern-day expenses. The report calls for further development of the Supplemental Poverty Measure to reflect data at the county level.

Even with programs reducing poverty, the report says there is room for improvement. Munkres outlines the proposals.

"Some of the recommendations for Idaho include expanding access to high-quality early education, changing tax-credit policies to help families keep more of what they earn, and funding programs like Head Start," he says.

The Casey Foundation estimates that child poverty costs the country $500 billion a year in lost productivity and earnings, including costs related to health and crime.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID