A newly released report indicates that many more children and their families are relying on food stamps and government assistance than in previous years.
Children First released their annual data book that tracks poverty among Oregon's most vulnerable population. The 2009 County Data Book on the Status of Oregon's Children tracks the health care, food security, and poverty levels of children throughout the state. The report also looks at how many children are involved in the child welfare system, which includes foster care, relative placements and incidents of child abuse and neglect.
Throughout the state, 151,964 children lived below the federal poverty line; 256,834 families received food stamps and 43,535 received federal assistance. In Multnomah County, for example, rates of abuse and neglect are either declining or holding steady when compared to last year. Of 23,465 reports of abuse, neglect or threat of harm, only 11 percent were "founded." Of those founded referrals, 36 percent were related to domestic violence in the home and 36 percent were related to substance abuse – two categories that can trigger automatic removal of children from the home that are not directly related to specific harm inflicted upon the child.
Other risk factors are increasing as the economy continues to decline. Teen pregnancy has increased to 37.9 per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 17; juvenile arrests increased 88 percent when compared to last year; and 3rd grade reading and math proficiency has declined 4 percent.
Many of the indicators are a direct result of economic conditions, although childhood poverty has actually declined to 18.1 percent from 21.9 percent. Both failure to pay child support and unemployment has increased.
View the entire Oregon County Data Book here