Measuring Access to Opportunity

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Supplemental poverty measure paints a more accurate picture of how children and families are doing in Georgia

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Before we can begin to lift kids out of poverty, we must have access to the most accurate measures available so we know how children and families in Georgia—and across the nation—are really doing.

A new KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot, Measuring Access to Opportunity in the United States, which the Annie E. Casey Foundation released today, shows that the official measure of poverty, created 51 years ago, by itself doesn’t capture a true and complete picture of low-income families living in the United States today. A new Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) gives us a much better idea of how many kids are living in poverty, because it accounts for variables like regional cost-of-living fluctuations and non-cash benefits.

“Growing up in economically deprived families has a profound and negative impact on our children’s health and educational achievement, and it puts them at greater risk of poor outcomes as adults,” said Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP) Executive Director Gaye Smith. “That’s costly to our state in terms of lost productivity and increased spending on health care and criminal justice.”

According to the SPM, Southeastern states actually fare better in terms of poverty rankings than they do according to the official measure that’s been used since 1963.

“A more realistic measure,” said Smith, “can help us better track what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating opportunities that will alleviate economic hardship for Georgia’s families.”

The official poverty measure shows that 27 percent of Georgia’s children lived below the poverty level in 2013. But according to the SPM, by taking into account regional expense differences and benefits programs already in place, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), 20 percent of Georgia’s children are living in poverty.

The new measure also shows what the poverty rate would be without assistance. The SPM reveals that without programs designed to help children in struggling families, the child poverty rate in Georgia would be 36 percent. That translates to 400,000 more kids living in poverty.

The SPM shows that the national rate of children in poverty without transfers from government programs is 33 percent. The rate is 18 percent with benefit transfers.

“While 20 percent of kids in poverty is not an acceptable rate, the SPM helps us better understand what’s happening in Georgia, and shows us just how much support programs for low-income kids affect their day-to-day lives,” said Rebecca Rice, KIDS COUNT coordinator at GaFCP. “Georgia struggles with poverty, so it’s crucial that we know what’s happening and that we appreciate just how vital our programs and services are for our most vulnerable kids.”

Read Measuring Access to Opportunity in the United States.

Concentrating on the Whole Family, a November 2014 Georgia KIDS COUNT report, and the national release of Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach, outline a series of recommendations and practices that will support and equip families with the tools and skills they need to get on a path to opportunity.

Contact:
Rebecca Rice
Georgia KIDS COUNT Coordinator
404-527-7394 (x103)

[email protected]

Bill Valladares
GaFCP Communications Director
404-527-7394 (x113)
[email protected]

Follow us on Twitter @gafcpnews.

Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP) is a public-private partnership created by the State of Georgia and funders from the private sector to assist communities in addressing the serious challenges facing children and families. GaFCP also serves as a resource to state agencies across Georgia that work to improve the conditions of children and families.

Georgia KIDS COUNT provides policymakers and citizens with current data they need to make informed decisions regarding priorities, services, and resources that affect Georgia’s children, youth, families, and communities. Georgia KIDS COUNT is funded, in part, through a grant from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private charitable organization dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States. Find more information on children and families in Georgia, including maps, data tools, publications, and more at gafcp.org/count.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit aecf.org.