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Wyoming Has Lowest Child Poverty Rate, Using New Measure

PHOTO: A new way to measure child poverty shows that so much progress has been made in Wyoming, it has the lowest rate in the country. Credit: ben_kerckx/pixabay.com
PHOTO: A new way to measure child poverty shows that so much progress has been made in Wyoming, it has the lowest rate in the country. Credit: ben_kerckx/pixabay.com
February 25, 2015

LARAMIE, Wy. - The lowest child poverty rate in the country is right here in Wyoming at eight percent. A report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation recalculates poverty rates using an updated formula from the U.S. Census Bureau that accounts for assistance programs, such as food stamps, and adjusts for cost of living.

Without those factors, the rate would be 19 percent. Samin Dadelahi, chief operating officer at the Wyoming Community Foundation, says the report shows how the official poverty measure doesn't measure up anymore.

"If you were only to use the official poverty measure, it would look like really nothing has changed," says Dadelahi. "But we know that things have changed. So when the data doesn't match what you see, you know there's a problem."

The official poverty measure is nearly five decades old. The report calls for further development of the Supplemental Poverty Measure so programs can be tweaked to work even better.

Dadelahi says the new way of looking at poverty reflects what is seen on the ground.

"We know kids that are in Head Start programs, or in wrap-around programs, and mothers that have access to WIC, and families that have access to SNAP, and kids that are enrolled in Kid Care CHIP," says Dadelahi. "We know it makes a difference in those families."

The Casey Foundation estimates 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 - WY