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A new report shows investments in key policies and programs help to boost the economic well-being of children and families.

Measuring Access to Opportunity in the United Statesreleased by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT® project, uses the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) to create a detailed picture of the economic security of children and their families.The SPM shows without government interventions North Carolina’s supplemental child poverty rate would more than double from 17 to 35 percent, and an additional 436,000 children would live in poverty. Nationally, the supplemental poverty rate would increase from 18 to 33 percent.

The SPM substantially improves our understanding of the financial well-being of families, as well as the policies and programs designed to support them. The SPM takes into account what it actually costs to live–expenses like child care, medical co-payments, housing, and food and utilities–and how those costs affect a family’s disposable income. The SPM also considers income provided by programs that help offset family expenses, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and Social Security, and regional variations in cost of living.

The report offers several recommendations to help end the cycle of poverty:

  • Expand access to high-quality early education;
  • Change tax credit policies to help families keep more of what they earn;
  • Strengthen and streamline food and housing subsidies; and
  • Implement strategies that link supports for children and their parents.
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