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Report: New Accountability for Anti-Poverty Programs

PHOTO: A new report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation uses a U.S. Census Bureau calculator that factors in assistance programs, instead of the standard federal poverty measurement. And there's good news for South Dakota, with 27,000 fewer children in poverty. Photo credit: luckyluke01750/pixabay.com
PHOTO: A new report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation uses a U.S. Census Bureau calculator that factors in assistance programs, instead of the standard federal poverty measurement. And there's good news for South Dakota, with 27,000 fewer children in poverty. Photo credit: luckyluke01750/pixabay.com
February 26, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The measuring tool for poverty has been recalibrated, and the new calculation tells a success story for South Dakota.

A report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation uses a U.S. Census Bureau calculator that factors in state and federal assistance programs, something the official federal poverty measure doesn't do.

In South Dakota, those programs meant 27,000 fewer children were in poverty between 2011 and 2013. Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy at the Casey Foundation, welcomes the new data.

"We know this is a really important measure," says Speer. "We need to get better, being able to track how many kids are living, really, in economic deprivation in our country."

Another note about the official federal poverty measure, it was created 50 years ago. The report calls for further development of the Census Bureau tool to reflect county-level data.

Speer adds the numbers can be fragile, as program funding is cut or access is limited.

"Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure, we can really see the successes and the limitations of the safety-net resources that we've put into place," Speer says. "We can also see these resources don't go far enough."

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 - SD