One in five Ohio children are struggling in poverty. Nearly 95,000 Ohio children lack health coverage. They are suffering from hunger and lacking basic essentials like toiletries. They fall behind in education as they miss the opportunities and support systems their non-impoverished peers enjoy.

After trillions in tax cuts delivered in 2003 by Republican President George W. Bush that were supposed to unleash America’s might and create jobs and prosperity as far as the eye could see, the nation soon found itself mired in the Great Recession, an economic meltdown second in severity only to the Great Depression of the 1930s that has devastated the nation. Many states, including Ohio, have yet to fully recover from.

Two terms of a hard-right, austerity thinking from Ohio Gov. John Kasich – who readily boasts about giving away $5 billion in tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthy but refuses to admit his misbegotten budgeting created a billion dollar gap in the last state budget – have set Ohio’s recovery lagging behind the nation’s.

U.S. Census Bureau statistics paint a grim picture of too many children living in poverty in the Buckeye State. The numbers warrant attention by future officeholders who want Ohio to climb back into the top half of states with children not living in poverty.

Based on data released by the Census Bureau recently and analyzed by the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, the good news is that 70,000 children have escaped poverty in Ohio since 2014. The bad news is the numbers show that Ohio’s ranks in the bottom half of states, at 33rd in child poverty, compared to other states.

“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,” Ashon McKenzie, Policy Director at the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, said in a media release.

McKenzie is happy to see progress on poverty and health, but she remains “deeply troubled at the speed of the progress,” noting Ohio has “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 percent of the federal poverty limit, set to expire this September.

The data show that 30,000 eligible children now have health insurance coverage, but more needs to be done. “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,”


The numbers show that 524,660, or 1 in 5, Ohio children lived in poverty in 2016, which 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.

  • 9.9 percent of children in Ohio are in extreme poverty;
  • 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. Poverty is defined as an annual income below $24,563 for an average family of four. Extreme poverty is half of that level. Ohio’s Black, Hispanic, and multiracial children are experiencing poverty at much higher rates than White and Asian children;
  • Ohio ranks in the bottom half of states for all but Asian children;
  • 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;
  • More than half-a-million children – including babies, toddlers, and preschoolers – have been left behind in poverty.

Threats by the Trump Administration to cut important programs like Medicaid and nutrition assistance programs will only slow social and economic progress and stunt Ohio’s growth, Mckenzie asserted.

“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,” she said.

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.