Category Archives: Poverty

Hard Numbers: A Measure Meant for Research, Not Eligibility

Source: Karen K. Harris, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, April 19, 2010

The Federal Poverty Measure is badly in need of revision. The current measure is not an accurate reflection of the resources a family needs to stay healthy and thrive. This six-part series will examine the history of the measure and past and current efforts to reform it.

The Federal Poverty Measure is a decades-old relic that became widely utilized by historical accident. The current measure was created during the mid-1960s by an economist at the Social Security Administration (SSA) who began publishing articles with poverty statistics for the United States using a poverty measure that she had developed.

Federal Food Policy And Childhood Obesity: A Solution Or Part Of The Problem?

Source: Rachel Tolbert Kimbro, and Elizabeth Rigby, Health Affairs, Vol. 29 no. 3, 2010
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Amid growing concern about childhood obesity, the United States spends billions of dollars on food assistance: providing meals and subsidizing food purchases. We examine the relationship between food assistance and body mass index (BMI) for young, low-income children, who are a primary target population for federal food programs and for efforts to prevent childhood obesity. Our findings indicate that food assistance may unintentionally contribute to the childhood obesity problem in cities with high food prices. We also find that subsidized meals at school or day care are beneficial for children’s weight status, and we argue that expanding access to subsidized meals may be the most effective tool to use in combating obesity in poor children.

2009 Poverty Scorecard Grades

Source: Shriver Center, 2010

From the summary:
As millions lose their jobs, homes, and health insurance during this recession, they look to Congress to come through and help them in their time of need. But does it? Are the representatives in Washington really looking out for the interests of the people who were laid off by a plant closing, lost their health insurance, or face crushing debt as a result of a medical emergency? The 2009 Poverty Scorecard grades the performance of each member of Congress on the most important poverty-related issues that came to a vote in 2009.

State Fact Sheets on Child Welfare Funding 2010

Source: Center for Law and Social Policy, January 21, 2010

Below are links to fact sheets for each of the 50 states on child welfare financing. In addition to data on child welfare expenditures and the sources of this funding, the fact sheets include contextual data such as the number (and percent) of children living in poverty, the number and types of substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect, and the number of children in foster care.

Each fact sheet contains sections that:

1. Describe the context for child welfare spending by providing data on abused and neglected children, children in foster care, children who have left foster care, and children living with kin;

2. Identify how much child welfare funding comes from federal, state, and local sources;

3. Identify the major federal funding streams that are used to support child welfare and the amount of child welfare funding that comes from each; and

4. Highlight expenditures and trends within the Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Programs, including expenditures for foster care maintenance and adoption assistance payments, administrative and child placement costs, and training.

Hunger and Homelessness Survey

Source: United States Conference of Mayors, December 2009

From the press release:
In the last year, U.S. cities have seen the sharpest increase in the demand for hunger assistance since 1991, an increase in family homelessness and a decrease or leveling in individual homelessness, according to a U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) report on the status of Hunger and Homelessness in 27 cities in America (listed below) that was released today at a press conference at the USCM headquarters in Washington, D.C..
See also:
Press conference video
ARRA helps municipalities expand homeless services
Source: American City & County, January 26, 2010

Jail Incarceration, Homelessness, and Mental Health: A National Study

Source: Greg A Greenberg, Robert A. Rosenheck, Psychiatric Services, Vol. 59 No. 2, February 2008

The relationship between homelessness and mental illness in jail inmates is examined. Inmates who had been homeless before incarceration made up 15.3% of the jail population, 7.5 to 11.3 times the rate of homelessness for the general public. Mental illness increased an inmate’s probability of being homeless prior to incarceration.

The Decline Of States In Financing The U.S. Safety Net: Retrenchment In State And Local Social Welfare Spending, 1977-2007

Source: Thomas Gais, Lucy Dadayan, Suho Bae, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, November 2009

This paper examines social welfare spending on the eve of the recession to understand the likely trajectory of funding for different elements of state and local social welfare systems. It finds that state and local spending outside of medical assistance lost much of its real fiscal value since the last recession of 2001-02, especially when inflation-adjusted expenditures are compared to measures of need. Other trends include a growing concentration of state social welfare budgets around medical assistance, declines in federal assistance to states, and growing differences in social service spending across states of different fiscal capacities. The recession may exacerbate most of these developments and, along with the federal stimulus package, reduce the role of state governments in funding the national social welfare system.

Estimating the Risk of Food Stamp Use and Impoverishment During Childhood

Source: Mark R. Rank, Thomas A. Hirschl, Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine Vol. 163 no. 11, November 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Between the ages of 1 to 20 years, nearly half (49.2%) of all American children will, at some point, reside in a household that receives food stamps. Households in need of the program use it for relatively short periods but are also likely to return to the program at several points during the childhood years. Race, parental education, and head of household’s marital status exert a strong influence on the proportion of children residing in a food stamp household.

American children are at a high risk of encountering a spell during which their families are in poverty and food insecure as indicated through their use of food stamps. Such events have the potential to seriously jeopardize a child’s overall health.