Child Health

Nearly 70,000 Children Have Escaped Poverty in Ohio Since 2014

For Immediate Release
Thursday, September 14, 2017

For More Information Contact:

Ashon McKenzie 
(614) 221-2244

Nearly 70,000 Children Have Escaped Poverty in Ohio Since 2014

COLUMBUS – Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released new Census data showing that Ohio has made valuable strides to improve in child poverty and health. Nearly 70,000 children have escaped poverty in Ohio since 2014, and more than 30,000 gained health insurance coverage. This progress speaks to the impact of Ohio’s recovery from the Great Recession. But it also highlights the absolute necessity of continuing to move Ohio’s children forward out of poverty. Ohio is strongest when its children grow up healthy and successful. And despite some progress, far too many Ohio children still languish in poverty.

524,660, or 1 in 5, Ohio children lived in poverty in 2016. That number represents a decrease of 25,610 children since 2015 and 69,171 children since 2014. The state child poverty rate fell from 21.3 percent in 2015 to 20.5 percent in 2016. Poverty is defined as an annual income below $24,563 for an average family of four. Extreme poverty is half of that level.

The new data also revealed the following facts:

  • Ohio’s ranks in the bottom half of states, at 33rd in child poverty compared to other states (with a rank of one being the lowest rate of child poverty);
  • 9.9 percent of children in Ohio are in extreme poverty; and
  • Children under age 6 are poor at higher rates than all children combined. 23.8 percent of Ohio children under age 6 are poor, and 11.8 percent are in extreme poverty.

Ohio’s Black, Hispanic, and multiracial children are experiencing poverty at much higher rates than White and Asian children. In fact, Ohio ranks in the bottom half of states for all but Asian children:

Ohio Children in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity 2016

 Race/Ethnicity  Under 18 Percent  Ohio’s Rank  Under Age 6 Percent  Ohio’s Rank
 White  14.3  37  16.1  40
 Black  44.6  40  53.7  43
 Hispanic  33.2  38  35.5  40
 AI/AN*  35.8  29 17.0  8
 Asian  11.1  24  14.2  30
 2 or More Races  30.4  46  32.7  45

*American Indian/Alaska Native

The question for policymakers is how to make sure that the number of children in poverty continues to decline and to make sure the decline happens quickly. 2016 data shows that Ohio progressed at a slower pace in 2016 than in 2015. Nearly 18,000 fewer children escaped poverty last year compared to 2015.

“Today’s data reminds us of the value of the Census and accurate data in understanding the impact of our state and federal efforts and in allocating resources to improve the lives of children,” says Ashon McKenzie, Policy Director at the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio.

“We’re happy to see progress on poverty and health, but deeply troubled at the speed of the progress. We have nearly 95,000 children who do not have health insurance coverage and many more who will lose their coverage under Ohio Medicaid if Congress does not reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP),” a federal program that provides Medicaid coverage for Ohio children up to 206% of the federal poverty limit, set to expire this September.

“In addition, more than half-a-million children – including our babies, toddlers, and preschoolers – have been left behind in poverty. Threatened cuts to important programs like Medicaid and nutrition assistance programs slow our social and economic progress and stunt our growth as a state. We have to strengthen the funding and efficacy of our state and federal anti-poverty programs and increase our investment in measures like early childhood education and tax cuts for working families – powerful actions that ensure success for all Ohioans.”


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.