Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

Oct 29: Poverty in Maine

I think Charles proposed this as a topic. He sent me this document for prep:

A recent report found that 85 percent of Maine children of young parents — adults between the ages of 18 and 24 — live in low-income families.

Maine children of young parents most likely to live in poverty

October 2, 2018 by Kate Cough on News

ELLSWORTH — Children of young adult parents in Maine are more likely than anywhere else in the nation to live in poverty.

That’s according to a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation released on Sept. 25 in which the authors write that 85 percent of Maine children of young parents — adults between the ages of 18 and 24 — live in low-income families. In New Hampshire, that number is 63 percent.

Maine is one of three states, including Georgia and Kentucky, in which more than 80 percent of parents with young children live in low-income families (defined as a family of three making less than $42,000 per year).

Around 10 percent of Maine’s young adults, around 10,000 residents ages 18 through 24, are parents. This is on par with the national average.

“Despite the fact that Maine has one of the highest high school graduation rates among young parents and more of these parents are working or in school than their national peers, young families face systemic barriers to economic security,” said Maine Children’s Alliance Executive Director Claire Berkowitz in a news release.

“Young parents in Maine need access to jobs that pay a family- sustaining wage, high-quality childcare for their kids, and reliable transportation to get them to work. Maine must do more to support the success of young parents in the workforce.”

Young parents had a median family income of $23,000 per year, according to the report.

A mere 5 percent of young parents nationwide receive childcare subsidies, and many are not eligible for certain tax credits that would boost their income.

Among their recommendations, authors suggest using funds to help parents pay for transportation and childcare and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to workers between 18 and 25 to help young parents keep more of what they earn.

Authors also call for states to “reduce or eliminate loan or debt-collection penalties that keep young parents from working” and for states to “modify or suspend” child support payments if a parent is in prison “to prevent crippling debt when they are released.”

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