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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Category: Children and Families

Rural Hospitals and Obstetric Care

It’s 4 A.M. The baby’s coming. But the hospital is 100 miles away., By Jack Healy, July 17, 2018, New York Times: “A few hours after the only hospital in town shut its doors forever, Kela Abernathy bolted awake at 4:30 a.m., screaming in pain. Oh God, she remembered thinking, it’s the twins. They were not due for another two months. But the contractions seizing Ms. Abernathy’s lower back early that June morning told her that her son and daughter were coming. Now. Ms. Abernathy, 21, staggered out of bed and yelled for her mother, Lynn, who had been lying awake on the living-room couch. They grabbed a few bags, scooped up Ms. Abernathy’s 2-year-old son and were soon hurtling across this poor patch of southeast Missouri in their Pontiac Bonneville, racing for help. The old hospital used to be around the corner. Now, her new doctor and hospital were nearly 100 miles away…”

Incarceration and Childhood Trauma – Wisconsin

Cycles of incarceration hit African Americans, children especially hard, By Dean Mosiman, July 14, 2018, Wisconsin State Journal: “When people commit certain crimes or pose an extreme danger to others, most agree, they need to be locked up. Incarceration can also concentrate the mind, forcing offenders to confront the alcohol and drug dependencies that often led to their crimes, allow them to address anger problems and further their education. But it’s also true that incarceration can compound the effect of childhood trauma, make some problems worse, separate families, and renew cycles of trauma, making everyone less safe…”

Foster Care System

  • This new federal law will change foster care as we know it, By Teresa Wiltz, May 2, 2018, Stateline: “A new federal law, propelled by the belief that children in difficult homes nearly always fare best with their parents, effectively blows up the nation’s troubled foster care system. Few outside child welfare circles paid any mind to the law, which was tucked inside a massive spending bill President Donald Trump signed in February. But it will force states to overhaul their foster care systems by changing the rules for how they can spend their annual $8 billion in federal funds for child abuse prevention…”
  • Judges wrestle over whether Texas mistreats foster kids so badly, it tramples their rights, By Robert T. Garrett, April 30, 2018, Dallas News: “A panel of three judges appeared divided Monday on whether Texas has breached the U.S. Constitution in how it treats foster children — and if so, what should be done about it. A top assistant to Attorney General Ken Paxton and a Houston lawyer who’s the lead counsel in a class action suit on behalf of nearly 11,000 children in long-term foster care clashed for an hour at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Their argument was over whether judges should embrace or reject U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack’s 2015 ruling that the state’s system is ‘broken’ because it subjects already vulnerable youths to mayhem and harm and that remedial orders must be implemented…”

Low-Income Women’s Health Program – Texas

Texas health program served more low-income women, but improvement since funding cuts is unclear, By Jackie Wang, April 27, 2018, Dallas News: “A new report shows more people enrolled in a health program for low-income women in 2017, but it doesn’t show if the numbers are an improvement over the years before funding was cut. According to a Texas Health and Human Services Commission report published Thursday, Healthy Texas Women increased its total number of clients served from 70,336 in 2016 to 122,406 in 2017. The Family Planning Program increased its clients from 38,404 in 2016 to 96,990 in 2017. Overall, Texas served 29 percent more women in one year…”

Families and the Opioid Crisis

  • Keeley and the Vial, By Rich Lord, April 30, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Keeley Ashbaugh puts one hand on the arm of the couch, another on the electric fireplace, and pushes up with her thin arms so that her feet are inches off the floor. And then, because 8-year-olds don’t stay still, she swings her feet back, forward, back, forward, all the while babbling about a relative’s kitten, which is, oddly, named Puppy…”
  • Opioids swamping child welfare system, By Rich Lord, April 30, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “First came an anonymous tip that a young girl was living in a building with no utilities. When police arrived at the boarded-up apartment on East Warrington Avenue, in Allentown, they saw no sign that anyone was inside, and no clear way in. A half-hour later on that September morning last year, though, another call reported an overdose at that address. Medics busted in, and revived Connie Hartwick, 46, from a heroin overdose, according to a police affidavit…”
  • In rural areas hit hard by opioids, a new source of hope, By Jen Fifield, April 30, 2018, Stateline: “For people addicted to opioids, the first time in detox isn’t necessarily the last. For Brian Taylor, the second time wasn’t the last, either — nor was the third, fourth or fifth. The sixth time, though, was different. It has been nearly 17 months since Taylor, 33, walked out of his last treatment at the Withdrawal Management Center in Harrington, Delaware, and he hasn’t used drugs since. If the detox center hadn’t been so accessible — just 20 miles from where he was living, in the small town of Seaford — he said he may have lost his children, his family and even his life…”

Kids Count Report – Delaware

Study: Almost half of Delaware children experience trauma, stress, By Meredith Newman, May 1, 2018, News Journal: “Almost half of Delaware children experience some type of traumatic or stressful moment growing up that could influence a child’s overall health, according to a new study.  The annual Kids Count report, released Tuesday, found that 48 percent of kids in Delaware experience one or more adverse childhood experiences, slightly higher than that the national average of 46 percent…”

Ohio Poverty Report

  • Medicaid expansion has helped, but poverty persists in Ohio, By Bill Bush, April 13, 2018, Columbus Dispatch: “The rising cost of child care and college, combined with the raging opioid crisis, continue to have a major impact on poverty in Ohio, a new report says. ‘These problems travel through society like a cancer,’ said Philip Cole, executive director of the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, which publishes the annual State of Poverty in Ohio…”
  • Ohio poverty report suggests federal data is outdated, By Kayla Beard, April 25, 2018, Athens News: “How many more days until your next paycheck? How many more minutes until your next meal? For many in Athens County, as residents of one of the most poverty-stricken regions in the state, the answers to these questions are heavy with fear and uncertainty…”

Welfare Reform

  • Wisconsin is the GOP model for ‘welfare reform.’ But as work rules grow, family faces the hard reality, By Robert Samuels, April 23, 2018, Northwest Herald: “The shock absorbers in James Howlett’s Ford Fusion were busted, but he and his partner, Nadine, packed their two children inside anyway. They were already homeless, and their time on food stamps was running out. They needed to fix the car and dig up documents to try to get back on welfare. The suburban homeless shelter where they slept the night before was now in the distance as they made their way through the familiar blight of the city neighborhood that was once home. Howlett dropped Kayden, 5, at kindergarten and Cali, 3, at day care in a community center that stood amid the boarded-up houses and vacant fields surrounded by barbed wire that dot Milwaukee’s north side. That’s when he found himself gripped by a new worry: His run-down Ford might be another barrier to government assistance…”
  • Farm bill creates latest push for ‘welfare reform’, By Jessica Wehrman, April 22, 2018, Columbus Dispatch: “Republicans’ next big push for ‘welfare reform’ comes courtesy of a bill designed to pay for the nation’s farm programs. The federal farm bill, which expires on Oct. 1, is aimed at providing federal support to farmers who may need it during tough times. But roughly 80 percent of the bill goes to federal food assistance, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. That typically makes the bill’s passage a bipartisan affair, with urban and rural lawmakers joining forces to both help feed the poor and to keep farmers facing financial difficulty from being driven out of business entirely. But this year’s bill has been different. Instead, to Democrats’ fury, House Republicans see the farm bill as an opportunity to take a crack at revamping SNAP, formerly known as food stamps…”

Pregnancy Rate of Foster Youth – Texas

Teens in foster care more likely to become pregnant than other Texas youths, report finds, By Jackie Wang, April 16, 2018, Dallas Morning News: “The pregnancy rate for teens in foster care is almost five times as high as the rate for other Texas girls ages 13 to 17, according to a report from an advocacy group. The analysis, which Texans Care for Children released Monday, also found that more than half of teens who age out of foster care at 18 or extend their time until 21 will become pregnant before they turn 20. That’s double the 1 in 4 American teens who will be pregnant before turning 20, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy…”

Kids Count Report – Michigan

  • Kids Count Report: Poverty down, health and education remain concerns, By Erin Dietzer, April 17, 2018, Holland Sentinel: “The good news in the 2018 Michigan Kids Count Report is that poverty is finally seeing a drop. The bad news is that a majority of child well-being indicators have stagnated or worsened statewide since 2010, with widening disparities by race, ethnicity and income…”
  • Report: Rate of black kids living in poverty dips, April 17, 2018, Detroit News: “While Michigan continues to recover from the Great Recession, one group has lagged behind. The number of black children living in poverty has dropped but still remains alarmingly high, according to the 2018 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book. It has fallen from 48 percent in 2010 to 42 percent in 2016…”

Maternal and Infant Mortality

  • Why America’s black mothers and babies are in a life-or-death crisis, By Linda Villarosa, April 11, 2018, New York Times Magazine: “When Simone Landrum felt tired and both nauseated and ravenous at the same time in the spring of 2016, she recognized the signs of pregnancy. Her beloved grandmother died earlier that year, and Landrum felt a sense of divine order when her doctor confirmed on Muma’s birthday that she was carrying a girl. She decided she would name her daughter Harmony. ‘I pictured myself teaching my daughter to sing,’ says Landrum, now 23, who lives in New Orleans. ‘It was something I thought we could do together.’  But Landrum, who was the mother of two young sons, noticed something different about this pregnancy as it progressed…”
  • Report: Texas’ maternal deaths were dramatically lower in 2012 under new methodology, By Marissa Evans, April 9, 2018, Texas Tribune: “The number of Texas women who died from pregnancy complications in 2012 is being cut by more than half through a new state method for counting and confirming maternal deaths — which made Texas the subject of national news coverage over its high death rate. Several of the state’s top health experts released a report in the medical journal Obstetrics & Gynecology on Monday  showing that by using the new method, the number of women who died dropped from 147 to 56…”

Kids Count Report – Florida

Fewer kids in Florida live in poverty but state ranks 40 overall for child well-being, By Liz Freeman, April 5, 2018, Naples Daily News: “Kids can’t get ahead when they are behind with learning and thriving. New Florida Kids Count data shows modest improvement statewide for children getting out of poverty and for students graduating on time, but more needs to be done to improve their future, according to program officials…”

Child Care Subsidies – California

Thousands of families are eligible for child care subsidies. Actually getting them? Good luck., By Priska Neely, March 27, 2018, Southern California Public Radio: “When her son Jeremiah was born, Bertha Terrones spent weeks calling centers to find care. Eventually, after months passed, she went to visit in person. ‘You feel helpless, like, you’re watching and can’t do anything about it because there’s no progress,’ said Terrones, in Spanish. ‘The programs aren’t reaching the cities where these services are needed most.’  Terrones, who lives in Cudahy, in southeast L.A. County, spent more than a year on a waitlist. Tens of thousands of families across L.A. County face similar experiences. While 51 percent of babies and toddlers in the county are eligible for state-subsidized child care programs, only 6 percent of these children are served, according to new analysis by Advancement Project California, released on Tuesday…”

Kids Count Report – Colorado

Colorado kids doing better in many areas, but face problems with suicide, school funding, infant mortality, report says, By Monte Whaley, March 22, 2018, Denver Post: “Colorado kids are doing better on several fronts than they were 25 years ago, including in areas of public health, early development and education, according to a report released Thursday. In 2016, Colorado’s infant mortality rate was nearly half of what it was in 1991, the teen birth rate plummeted by nearly 70 percent and the uninsured rate for kids reached a record low…”

Foster Care Payments to Relatives – Kentucky

Kentucky wrongly rejecting families for foster care payments despite ruling, critics say, By Deborah Yetter, March 21, 2018, Louisville Courier Journal: “Paula Grant, a disabled grandmother raising three children removed from a meth home, was excited to learn she might be eligible for foster care payments under a federal court ruling that became final in October. But Grant said she was crushed when Kentucky recently rejected her request for payments of up to $750 per month per child because of a technicality — her grandchildren had been determined to be ‘dependent’ rather than neglected or abused, classifications used in removing a child from a home…”

Student Homelessness – New York City

New York City is failing homeless students, reports say, By Elizabeth A. Harris, March 15, 2018, New York Times: “City workers assigned to help homeless students are desperately overwhelmed, leaving many of those children, among the most vulnerable in the public school system, to miss enormous amounts of school and fall far behind their classmates, two reports say.  Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has been scrambling for years to stanch the cascade of families falling into homelessness, a wave that has become a crisis for the city, his administration and, most of all, the tens of thousands of people with no place to live. The two reports, scheduled to be released on Thursday, highlight how far the city has to go in addressing their needs…”

Baby Nurseries in Prisons – Ohio

Parenting in prison: Ohio nursery offers inmate moms, children a chance to bond, By John Caniglia, March 4, 2018, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “One-month-old Javon Jackson fidgets with his mom’s jacket as he drinks from his bottle and holds her hand. His mom coos. Her friends laugh, and a precocious, 2-year-old toddler stops by and waves hi. In all, it is a typical, upbeat moment for any mother and child — until prison officials tell Javon’s mom, Janisha Meredith of Cleveland, that a head count is scheduled in 5 minutes. Javon and four other children, who were born while their mothers were incarcerated, are being raised by their moms in Ohio’s prison nursery, a facility that sits less than 30 feet from the razor wire that circles the Ohio Reformatory for Women…”

Medicaid Spending to School Districts

Medicaid’s little-known benefits for millions of US students, By Anna Gorman and Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, March 6, 2018, CNN: “Gerardo Alejandrez used to punch classmates, throw chairs and curse at his teachers, conduct that forced him to switch from school to school. ‘I had a lot of anger issues,’ the 16-year-old said recently. Then Gerardo entered a class at Oakland Technical High School for students who have mental health or behavior issues. In that classroom, the teacher gets support from Erich Roberts, a psychiatric social worker assigned to the group. Oakland Unified School District bills Medicaid, the nation’s insurance program for low-income residents, for Roberts’ services…”

Arizona Daily Star Series on Foster Care

Arizona Daily Star investigation: Fixing our foster care crisis, series homepage, Arizona Daily Star: “The Arizona Daily Star investigated how our state came to have one of the nation’s highest rates of child removal, and how we can keep more kids at home by helping at-risk families break generational cycles of trauma, neglect or abuse…”

Foster Care Payments to Relatives – Kentucky

Kentucky will finally make foster care payments owed to relatives raising children, By Deborah Yetter, February 13, 2018, Louisville Courier Journal: “In a move that will help relatives providing foster care for hundreds of Kentucky children, state officials announced Tuesday they will begin making payments to those relatives under a federal court ruling that became final almost four months ago…”