Amid Nationwide Surge in Child Poverty, MN Mitigation Plan Takes Flight
Monday, September 18, 2023
Policy experts are reacting to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau, showing the nation's child poverty rate has more than doubled, to 12%.
In Minnesota, there is hope state-level action will limit some of the effects. The dramatic increase in the 2022 child poverty rate came just one year after it reached a historic low of 5%.
Samantha Waxman, deputy director of state fiscal policy research for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said inflation likely contributed, but there was a much bigger force at play.
"The number reflects the expiration of pandemic assistance programs, including the expanded Child Tax Credit," Waxman explained.
The federal tax credit was temporarily expanded under the American Rescue Plan, but congressional negotiators have failed to make it permanent.
The Children's Defense Fund said there is no fresh data yet for individual states, but the organization pointed to Minnesota adopting its own Child Tax Credit this year, noting it is forecast to reduce child poverty by one-third, helping families avoid the worst of the federal backslide.
Deb Fitzpatrick, policy and research director for the Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota, said given the gap between federal policies expiring and the legislative action, low-income Minnesota families are seeing more hardships through rising evictions and food pantry visits. But before, she emphasized they saw the effectiveness of pandemic aid from Congress, which inspired advocates to push for bigger safety nets at the state level.
"With the significant number of measures that were taken from kind of a whole-child, whole-family perspective -- whether it was housing, having increased income through the Child Tax Credit -- we hope we can mitigate some of that," Fitzpatrick asserted.
Looking ahead, Fitzpatrick noted all the efforts illustrate how nuanced fighting poverty can be.
"We have record-low unemployment in the state of Minnesota, and the idea that poverty is due to people not working is just wrong," Fitzpatrick contended. "We have lots of people who are working very hard and still struggle to make ends meet."
She and other policy experts pointed out the trends underscore the need to raise the baseline poverty measuring stick.
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