By: Kyle Baltuch, SVP of Equality of Opportunity, Florida Chamber Foundation
If you have read the headlines in the New York Times or any other major outlet in the past few weeks, you have probably come across the seemingly great news – childhood poverty has fallen to historic lows across the country. In fact, the figure of 5.2% nationally, marked a 59% decrease over the past 50 years, and progress has been realized in all 50 states.
There is just one problem, that’s not actually the childhood poverty rate in America.
The headlines and articles touting this success instead are a reference to the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which takes into consideration all social safety net programs families participate in and adds that value to their income threshold; Think, a family of three makes $17,000 annually, but receives $6,500 in social service benefits – they would no longer be considered impoverished under the SPM.
This isn’t meant to say that all social safety net programs are bad, many are essential supports for families in their greatest time of need, but it does say that this figure doesn’t accurately represent families that wake up and face root cause challenges surrounding their economic security each and every day.
Nationally, when you look at childhood poverty, the true rate is 17.5% a figure that has seen a slight drop in recent years but is dramatically different from the 5.2% that has been touted. At the Florida Chamber, we believe that the business community needs to come together to help communities address the systemic, root cause challenges that lead to poverty. By uniting the business community for good, understanding and addressing the challenges at a hyper-local level, and providing access to life-changing opportunities, we can provide long-term, sustainable change for families across Florida.
Yes, we are making progress, but know there is still a long way to go.
Click here to learn about the Florida Prosperity Project’s efforts to tackle the 10 root causes of generational poverty and how you can get involved.
If your business is focused on the future of Florida, and securing the path to prosperity for ALL Floridians, connect with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 850-521-1218.