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Wyoming Making Gains in Reducing Child Poverty

According to new data, the childhood poverty rate in Wyoming has decreased since 2011. (Pixabay)
According to new data, the childhood poverty rate in Wyoming has decreased since 2011. (Pixabay)
September 21, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Childhood poverty has decreased significantly in Wyoming since its peak in 2011, according to new data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

After the 2008 financial crisis, the poverty rate in Wyoming grew to 16 percent. Since then, however, the rate has come down to 13 percent, one of the biggest drops in the country.

Samin Dadelahi, chief operating officer for the Wyoming Community Foundation, said the state is making progress but more can be done. She added that getting assistance to kids can be challenging in the Cowboy State.

"We have an awful lot of isolated, rural populations," she said, "and getting services out to those children, for families that are living in poverty, it becomes very difficult to get help where you need it to the families that need it most."

With the drop in oil and gas revenues, she said, the state will need to lean on such federal programs as SNAP and the Earned Income Tax Credit to keep poverty rates from rising again.

Nationally, the child poverty rate also decreased from its peak of 23 percent in 2011 to 21 percent in 2015.

Although rates dropped among all children, African-American and Latino children still are three times more likely to live in poverty. Dadelahi said children pay a price when all people aren't afforded equal opportunities.

"The barriers presented by poverty impact those children proportionally higher than the average white family in Wyoming," she said, "Children of color tend to feel those impacts even more."

Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy at the Casey Foundation, said poverty in the United States means an annual income of about $24,000 for a family of four. She said it's a very low bar and not a lot of money to get by.

"Families are making really difficult choices on what bills to pay," she said. "Most of these families are working. They have jobs that are not paying well enough to support the family, on the whole."

The analysis is online at aecf.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY