Child Poverty in Utah is on the rise according to the latest information released by the U.S. Census Bureau today.
The number of Utah children living in poverty rose to almost 141,000 in 2011 bringing the state child poverty rate to 16.3%. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates survey also breaks the numbers down by county and Utah’s rural areas are the hardest hit. Seven counties have child poverty rates over 20% and Piute and San Juan counties have a rate more than 30%. Terry Haven from the non-profit Voices for Utah Children says access to help is the biggest problem those areas face.
“So that’s really the big issue is that they are rural areas and so it’s harder to get services to them," she says. "It’s harder to make sure that those families are getting the information they need and the services that children in urban counties can access very easily.”
Haven suggests the state look into policies such as a state Earned Income Tax Credit, high quality preschool programs, and expanding access to Medicaid. While Utah’s poverty rates are lower than the national average they have been consistently on the rise over the past 4 years. The state with the highest child poverty rate is Mississippi.