25 percent of Kentucky kids continue to live in poverty, new data shows

09/14/2017 01:11 PM

One in four Kentucky children still live in poverty, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau and distributed by Kentucky Youth Advocates.

New data estimates from the American Community Survey shows the number of Kentucky kids living in poverty did not a significantly change from the 2015 estimate.

The percent of Kentucky children living in poverty remains higher since the Great Recession began in 2008 (23.5 percent), according to Kentucky Youth Advocates.

“Children thrive when their parents can earn a living and meet the basic needs of their family,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “And yet, year after year, we see an unrelenting pattern – too many kids across the Commonwealth growing up in poverty. Fighting poverty is a tough and complex proposition, but there are actions that can be taken at federal, state, and local levels that will immediately make a difference. It’s really about political will and not policy viability.”

The new data points place Kentucky with the 4th highest rate of child poverty and overall poverty in the entire United States.

Supplemental poverty data released by the U.S. Census Bureau takes into account government programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals that are not included in the official poverty measure. The 2016 supplemental report, released this week, shows refundable tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), have the greatest effect on child poverty among all cash and non-cash benefits and resources received by families, according to KYA.

Brooks said that there is no aspect in a child’s life more pervasive than economic well-being.

“Living in poverty literally permeates every aspect of a child’s life, including their health, reading levels, and workforce prospects,” he said. “If Kentucky wants to gets serious about tackling childhood poverty, no idea holds more potential than a state refundable Earned Income Tax Credit.”

Brooks called the federal EITC the nation’s “most successful anti-poverty program.”

Lawmakers have been encouraged by KYA and others to pass a state Earned Income Tax Credit previously.

Gov. Bevin has signaled a willingness to call a special session or deal with tax reforms during the 2018 regular session of the General Assembly.

You can read a policy brief on the benefits of a state EITC prepared by KYA here.


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