The private philanthropy group that puts out the “Kids Count” survey every year is releasing a new report detailing the state-by-state impact of so-called “safety net” government programs on children.
Laura Speer, with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, says their findings indicate programs like food stamps and housing subsidies are significantly improving lives in Iowa and nationwide.
“We looked at the child poverty rate which we know is one of the most critical indicators we check,” Speer says, “not only because it has a major impact on kids, it can affect their health and their educational achievement, but really has an impact on the country as a whole.” In Iowa, she says the impact of government safety net programs is very evident.
“What we see is that without any government intervention, the poverty rate in the state would be about 22%,” Speer says. “With those interventions, it’s about 8%, so, that means more than 100,000 children in the state of Iowa are being lifted above the poverty line.” The report indicates, without government intervention, another 103,000 Iowa children would be living in poverty.
In addition to food stamps, government interventions being gauged by the report include the Earned Income Tax Credit and the child tax credit parents can claim annually on their tax returns. She admits the findings aren’t a big surprise, however. “It’s important to know that and to understand that those programs are making a difference and they need to be sustained,” Speer says. “Also, we know these programs are helping families keep their heads above water and filling the gap that low-wage jobs are leaving for families to make ends meet.” Speer is the foundation’s associate director of advocacy and public policy. See the full report at the Annie E. Casey Foundation website: www.aecf.org