Ferguson, food stamps, Deadbeat Dads

News briefs. Myrtle Beach Online highlights childhood poverty in the community – South Carolina is the seventh worst for underprivileged children, a national study says. New England’s suburbs are also communities of hidden poverty, where 1 in 4 families rely on food stamps. USA Today profiles a military family and talks about a new study that finds 1 in 7 Americans rely on food pantries and meal services to put food on the table. Check out coverage of the same study with a different angle and other families featured in National Geographic. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gives $65 million to set up the Alliance for Financial Inclusion to help people who don’t have access to bank accounts. Forbes asks: “Will it work?” Also, FICO changes could ease credit access, which could help younger Americans, first-time homebuyers and those in search of car loans or credit cards.


Ferguson. The small community near St. Louis is now a household name. Protests continue in the 21,000-person town as more details trickle out about the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown a little over a week ago. Several news outlets are delving into the racial tensions and inequality that divide the area, as well as the demographic shift during the past few decades. Brookings features some detailed facts about the poverty and economic changes that have profoundly affected the neighborhood.

A story “how-to.” It can be a tough subject to handle, but factors involving race, inequality, poverty and economic opportunities are inextricably linked and must be covered. Think about your community and story ideas as you read the Covering Poverty case studies under Race and Income Divide. After that, check out the step-by-step tutorials related to Race and Income Divide. Consider resources such as theEnvironmental Justice Resource Center and the EJRC’s People of Color Groups Directoryfor sourcing. Consider issues of social justice and racism. Talk to local sources while also consulting the National Center for Education Statistics, NCES household income and poverty rates data, Temple University’s Race & Poverty in the Americas guide and thePoverty & Race Research Action Council.

Research. Looking at racial inequality in another way, a new study from Boston College and the University of Georgia investigates child support and child poverty rates, especially for African American moms. A team of economic researchers looked at data across 14 years to understand the trend of “Deadbeat Dads” and the effect of skipped child support on poverty. They created a model to simulate scenarios of different support levels. They don’t exactly give guidelines to improve child support enforcement, but it’s an interesting angle to consider.


Final thoughts. Brookings also released a paper about TANF – the Temporary Assistance for Need Families – program and how it responded to increased unemployment during the Great Recession. To start, they note that welfare rolls declined more than 55 percent between 1995 and 2000 but climbed again during 2007-2009. Policymakers and researchers deemed it as an “inadequate” safety net. Brookings analyzes the data three ways and discusses how “the nation’s safety net as a whole performed well” and “prevented millions of people from falling into poverty.”


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