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Report: Safety Nets Cut Child Poverty in MD in Half

PHOTO: An updated poverty calculator from the U.S. Census Bureau shows great gains have been made in Maryland in reducing child poverty. Photo credit: EME/pixabay.com
PHOTO: An updated poverty calculator from the U.S. Census Bureau shows great gains have been made in Maryland in reducing child poverty. Photo credit: EME/pixabay.com
February 25, 2015

BALTIMORE - An updated poverty calculator from the Census Bureau shows great gains have been made in Maryland in reducing child poverty.

A report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation explains how the Supplemental Poverty Measure adjusts for cost-of-living and the benefits that low-income families receive through programs and tax credits.

Nonso Umunna, research director at Advocates for Children and Youth in Baltimore, says with those factors, about 150,000 fewer children were living in poverty in the state between 2011 and 2013.

"What the Supplemental Poverty Measure shows is not only the impact it has but it can also help us to be able to see where we can use government programs in a better way," he says.

The official poverty measure that is used as the standard was developed in the 1960s. The report calls for further development of the Census Bureau tool to reflect county-level data.

Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy at the Casey Foundation, says the foundation knows that programs aren't the only solution, and the report encourages more investment in other ways known to set children on a path to success.

"Access to high quality early education, changing tax credit policies to help families keep more of what they learn and linking up programs for parents to programs for children," Speery says.

The report 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 - MD