YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The results are in for a new survey on child poverty, but the numbers don’t bode well for children in Ohio.
The Kids Count Survey done by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found the number of children living in poverty in Ohio went up since the recession. The rate increased from 19 percent in 2008 to 23 percent in 2014. The numbers translate into about one in four children in Ohio is living in poverty, and the numbers are worse for Mahoning County, where it is one in three or about 14,000.
Tascin Brooks, food service director for Austintown Schools, says the assisted food lunch program there has grown substantially over the past five years going from about 30 students served to upwards of about 200.
“From feeding 30 kids the first year, we’re up to 160 to 170. Sometimes, up to 200 kids come for lunch, so we know there’s a need in this area,” Brooks said.
Despite the economic upswing the country has taken since 2008, the study indicates that many parents are simply under-employed. While there has been job growth, many positions are low-income and come with irregular schedules that create childcare problems with families, according to Dawn Wallace-Pascoe, of Children’s Defense Fund Ohio.
“Although there has been job growth, a lot of the jobs have been in low-income employment — in retail and jobs in the food sectors where families are really only making minimum wage,” she said.
Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, says retraining, child care, education and intervention are key to breaking the cycle of poverty.
“You have to help them break that cycle, and you help them by retraining. You help them by investing in them and their families, helping them with child care, helping them with some of those costs that you have to have in order to move forward,” he said.