Child Health

Little Progress Made on Ohio Child Poverty

***For Immediate Release ***
September 27, 2019

Ashon McKenzie, Policy Director

Dr. Tracy Nájera, Executive Director

COLUMBUS – Data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau today (American Community Survey) estimates that 19.5% of Ohio children – an estimated 496,000 children – were in poverty in 2018. While this may appear to be an improvement from Ohio’s 2017 rate at 20.1%, statistically, the change is not significant.

Young children experienced poverty and extreme poverty at even higher rates. Of the estimated 496,000 children in poverty, 181,000 were under the age of six. Eighty-eight thousand children under age six as estimated to be in extreme poverty. Only nine states had worse extreme poverty rates for young children.

“Year after year were leaving roughly half a million Ohio children to beat the odds of economic and social disadvantage to achieve academically, adapt socially, and transition to adulthood successfully.  We have to address poverty for Ohio’s children and for their families,” said Tracy Nájera, Executive Director for the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio.

The impact of poverty on Ohio’s children of color demonstrated challenges in equity. Approximately 30% of Ohio’s children in poverty were Black, and Ohio ranked among the worst in the nation for Black child poverty at 40th. The state ranked 44th for children of two or more races; 35th for Hispanic children; 27th for Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander children; and 11th for American Indian and Alaskan Native children. The state did not rank much better for White children at 39th in the nation.

 Race/Ethnicity Ohio’s Rank 2018 Percent 2018 Percent 2017  
White 39 13.6 13.8  
Black 40 42.1 30.9  
Hispanic 35 29.7 34.3  
Asian/Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 27 10.9 12.8  
American Indian/Alaskan Native 11 21.1 23.3  
 2 or More Races 44 28.1 24.4  
 All Groups 35 19.5 19.5  

“Child poverty is not an unsolvable issue. There are key steps our state and federal leaders can take like enacting a refundable earned income tax credit or subsidized transitional jobs programs,” said Nájera.

The Children’s Defense Fund’s End Child Poverty Now report outlines nine strategies that would reduce child poverty nationwide by 57% lifting roughly 5.5 million children from poverty. In addition to transitional jobs and refundable earning income tax credit, the report recommends expansions on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits, housing vouchers, and expanded child care subsidies among others.

“Ohio’s children – of every socio-economic status – are Ohio’s future,” said Nájera. “Our children and their families need our support and our investments, now, to grow, learn, and flourish in a bright tomorrow.”


The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.