Report shows child poverty rate in Ohio improving, education lacking

Child advocates say there are several factors that have helped the overall improvement in child well-being

The Annie E. Casey Foundation works to improve the lives of kids across the country. Each year they release a Kids Count data book to track the wellbeing of children.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The number of children living in poverty in Ohio has gone down. That’s according to a new study out earlier this month.

Child advocates say there are several factors that have helped the overall improvement in child well-being.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation works to improve the lives of kids across the country. Each year they release a Kids Count data book to track the wellbeing of children.

The 2017 book ranks Ohio 24th in the nation for overall child well-being, climbing two spots from 26th last year.

One of the major contributing factors is healthcare – 96 percent of kids in Ohio have access to medical care.

Economic growth also helps. More parents are working and many of those positions are full-time.

The study found that there is also room for improvement. Nearly 400,000 children are still living with high poverty rates, making them vulnerable to crime and violence.

Melissa Sellers with Mahoning County Jobs and Family Services said one of the major factors contributing to child well-being here in the Valley is a stable home life.

“Whether it was a divorce or a death or even a two-parent home where someone is chronically ill and can’t work or you have two parents who are under-employed – we have a lot of that. We have a lot of two-parent households who are working, they just aren’t making enough money,” Sellers said.

As far as education, the numbers aren’t looking so good. Ohio dropped from 17th last year to 27th this year.

Across the country, 19 percent of high school seniors will not graduate on time. Sellers said children living in poverty also face barriers in the classroom.

“You go to school and you need a calculator. As the kids get into high school you need a calculator and some of those calculators are $300. You are limiting their ability to learn when they can’t afford that calculator,” Sellers said.

The cost of school supplies in total has increased. For some families, it is a choice between food and the right supplies.

Pennsylvania ranked 18th in the nation for overall child well-being and 11th in education.