States Lifting the Most Children Out of Poverty

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5. Mississippi
> Change in no. of poor children due to public programs: -50.9%
> Supplemental child poverty rate: 15.1% (11th highest)
> Supplemental child poverty rate w/o public programs: 30.7% (5th highest)
> Avg. child tax credit payments per household: $301.62 (16th highest)

Mississippi is one of the states with the worst economies, and its supplemental child poverty rate of 15.1% is the 11th highest in the country. And child poverty in Mississippi would be even worse without government assistance. After factoring out public programs such as the SNAP, school lunch subsidies, and the child tax credit, Missippi’s supplemental child poverty rate rises to 30.7% — the fifth highest of any state. In total, public programs reduce the number of children in poverty by 50.9%, far more than the 41.8% national reduction.

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4. Idaho
> Change in no. of poor children due to public programs: -52.8%
> Supplemental child poverty rate: 8.9% (5th lowest)
> Supplemental child poverty rate w/o public programs: 18.8% (13th lowest)
> Avg. child tax credit payments per household: $423.44 (the highest)

After factoring out government programs such as food stamps, housing subsidies, and tax credits, the supplemental child poverty rate in Idaho rises from 8.9% — the fifth lowest of any state — to 18.8%, the 13th lowest. In total, public programs reduce the number of children in poverty by 52.8%, far more than the 41.8% national reduction.

Idaho is one of only six states with its own child tax credit program. The Idaho child tax credit follows the same eligibility guidelines as the federal program, and in 2018, it rose from $130 per qualifying child a year to $205. Total child tax credits in Idaho amount to $423.44 per household — qualifying and non-qualifying — the most of any state and approximately $140 more than the U.S. average.

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3. Rhode Island
> Change in no. of poor children due to public programs: -54.3%
> Supplemental child poverty rate: 9.9% (12th lowest)
> Supplemental child poverty rate w/o public programs: 21.7% (21st lowest)
> Avg. child tax credit payments per household: $206.65 (5th lowest)

Rhode Island is one of several small, relatively wealthy states where government assistance still has a great effect on child poverty. The typical household in Rhode Island earns $63,870 a year, about $3,500 more than the U.S. median. Public programs such as the SNAP, school lunch subsidies, and child tax credits reduce the supplemental child poverty rate in Rhode from 21.7% — the 21st lowest of any state — to 9.9%, the 12th lowest, and cuts the total number of children in poverty by more than half.

One reason for the large impact of government programs in Rhode Island is the high recipiency rate of public benefits. According to data from the ACS, 32.9% of poor families in Rhode Island receive some form of public assistance income, the largest share of any state.

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2. Iowa
> Change in no. of poor children due to public programs: -56.1%
> Supplemental child poverty rate: 8.0% (3rd lowest)
> Supplemental child poverty rate w/o public programs: 18.1% (9th lowest)
> Avg. child tax credit payments per household: $322.14 (11th highest)

The average household in Iowa — with and without children — receives $322.14 a year in child tax credits, the 11th most of any state. The average household also receives $54.85 a year from the federal WIC program, the eighth most of any state. Adjusted for the state’s low cost of living — goods and services cost 10.2% less in Iowa than they do nationwide — the amount of government assistance received by Iowa households ranks even higher relative to other states.

In total, public programs reduce the number of children living in poverty in Iowa by 56.1%, the largest reduction of any state other than Kansas.

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1. Kansas
> Change in no. of poor children due to public programs: -60.5%
> Supplemental child poverty rate: 7.3% (2nd lowest)
> Supplemental child poverty rate w/o public programs: 18.5% (11th lowest)
> Avg. child tax credit payments per household: $316.88 (14th highest)

In 2017, Kansas reinstated its own version of the federal child and dependent care tax credit, which provides eligible families with 18.8% of the federal CDCTC amount in the 2019 tax year, and 25.0% in 2020 and all years thereafter. Tax credits such as the CDCTC, other child tax credits, earned income tax credits, and other welfare subsidies reduce the number of children living in poverty in Kansas by 60.5%, by far the largest reduction of any state.

Like many states on this list, Kansas has a relatively large child population, which makes the cost of raising a child a greater burden on the working-age population and further necessitates the help of government anti-poverty programs. Of all state residents, 24.5% are under age 18, a larger share than in all but six other states.