Study Shows Decrease in Child Poverty in Montana - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Study Shows Decrease in Child Poverty in Montana

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BUTTE -

A relatively new way of looking at poverty statistics showed marked improvement in the number of Montana children living in poverty.

The Supplemental Poverty Measure or SPM was adopted by the census bureau in 2011. It indicates child poverty in Montana is on the decline with 39,000 children no longer living on the poverty threshold.

Although, Rocky Lyons, Executive Director of the Butte Rescue Mission said she's not seeing these new numbers reflected in their shelter residents. "Currently we have four children under the age of eight staying with us and more times than not we see the 18 and 17-year old kids come through here.”

The SPM gages child poverty based on the effect of safety net programs and tax credit policies geared towards alleviating financial hardships. It is unlike the federal government's official poverty count system created in the 1960's which groups like Montana kids count argues is an outdated measurement system.

"At that time people spent about a third of their income on food and that was really what the official poverty measure was based on. But, today food costs are less than 10% of a family's budget but the measure hasn't been changed," said Jennifer Calder, Communications Director for Montana KIDS COUNT.

But for Lyons, it's hard to acknowledge the decrease in child poverty when so many kids are living below the average income standards. "When I look at my grandchildren's classrooms I also don't see that it's getting better or that the fact there are waiting lines for little children getting into programs like Head Start and those kind of things there's such a need there, the classrooms are not getting smaller, they're getting larger and the programs are running out of money."

According to the Supplemental Poverty Measure the rate of children living in poverty nationally fell from 33% to 18% as a result of programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Earned Income Tax Credit.

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