The Coastal Packet: Maine's lousy child poverty policies

Saturday, May 13

Maine's lousy child poverty policies

Maine Center for Economic Policy - For the last seven years, Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services  policies have contributed to the disturbing escalation in child poverty and stashed or misappropriated tens of millions of federal dollars intended for Maine children. Recently, Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon unveiled a bi-partisan proposal  to enable struggling families to lift themselves out of poverty.

Here’s what Mainers need to know:
  • The percentage of Maine children living in extreme poverty – less than $10,000 a year for a family of three – rose eight times more than the national rate from 2011 to 2015. While the nation saw a 2% increase in extreme child poverty defined as 50% of the federal poverty line, Maine’s extreme child poverty rate rose by 16%. Maine’s rate of increase is twice that of our New England neighborhoods.
Child poverty line graph 5-11-2017 
Source: MECEP analysis of US Census Bureau, American Community Survey data,
3-year averages constructed by MECEP.
  • Where extreme child poverty is concerned, Maine is trending in the wrong direction. Between 2013 and 2015, Maine is one of only six states where extreme child poverty increased based on three year averages. In fact, Maine had the greatest increase in extreme child poverty in the nation.
  • During the LePage administration, Maine has gone from leader to laggard when it comes to advancing effective solutions to address extreme child poverty. In 2011, Maine ranked 11th best among states in its level of child poverty. In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, Maine ranks 21st. This the most precipitous slide in the rankings of any state.
  • Maine children are worse off today than they were before Governor LePage took office because of deliberate choices made by DHHS and the governor. Extreme child poverty has increased as Maine DHHS has stockpiled funds intended to help struggling families lift themselves out of poverty. But extreme child poverty is not the only indicator of failed policies. Other troubling outcomes include a rise in infant mortality in Maine and being one of two states to experience an increase in the percentage of children without health coverage.

No comments: