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Good News, Bad News for South Dakota’s Child Poverty Rates

FILE: Child Sad, Child Hungry
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Fewer South Dakota children lived in poverty in 2012 compared to 2011. However, the 2012 rate is still higher than it was in 2007.

These are the findings of the Children’s Defense Fund’s recent analysis of new state data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, which looked at child poverty rates across the United States.

In 2012, the child poverty rate was calculated at 17.5 percent, an improvement over the 2011 rate of 18.2 percent. However, the child poverty rate was calculated at 16.8 percent in 2007.

Poverty is defined as an annual income below $23,492 for the average family of four—$1,958 a month, $452 a week, or $64 a day. Extreme poverty is defined as an annual income of less than half of the poverty level or $11,746 a year, $979 a month, $226 a week, or $32 a day for the average family of four.

While South Dakota stayed out of the 25 percent threshold, the study did show that Black and Hispanic children in South Dakota are at higher poverty rates than the population at large.

Black South Dakota children have a poverty rate of 47.8 percent, affecting 2,214 children. This ranked South Dakota 38th, or 12th from the bottom in the category.

Hispanic South Dakota children have a poverty rate of 33.3 percent, affecting 3,173 children. This ranked South Dakota 21st.

The CDF did not provide a breakdown of Native American children or other ethnic groups.

“Children’s ability to survive, thrive and develop must not depend on the lottery of geography of birth,” said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the CDF. “A child is a child and should be protected by a national floor of decency. The greatest threat to America’s national security comes from no foreign enemy but from our failure to invest in healthy and educated children.”

According to the CDF, child poverty rates remain at record highs and Black, Hispanic and children under six suffer the most. Only two states (Texas and Illinois) experienced significant decreases from 2011. Child poverty rates actually increased in three states (New Hampshire, Mississippi and California) and remained at 2011 levels for the remaining 45 states.

The CDF says its Leave No Child Behind mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

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