Rich nation, poor kids


Ohio is not taking very good care of its poorest children, according to this year’s Kids Count report. Our state ranks 24th in child well-being.

One in three Ohio children lives in a home where no parent has a full-time, year-round job. One in four lives in poverty, on an income of less than $23,050 a year for a family of four.

Some 37 percent of children in Ohio live in single-parent households. One in 10 lives in a family whose head of household lacks a high-school diploma.

We know what child poverty will cost in cognitive development, in later social misbehavior, and in the shedding of the social fabric. Yet we shrug.

The immediate culprit is the Great Recession; the poor got poorer when the economy crashed. But even after the recession formally ended, the poor are still getting poorer and the safety net is getting shredded. Congress appears dedicated to inaction on job creation, in such areas as public-works spending, as well as on child welfare.

Sandy Oxley, chief executive officer of Voices for Ohio’s Children, says the Kids Count report includes some encouraging trends in Ohio, particularly a drop in uninsured children. Yet child poverty has gotten worse.

The other, larger culprit is the public — all of us. One-fourth of our children live in poverty, in the wealthiest nation in the world? In a state rich with farms and industry? That’s intolerable.

Pope Francis recently equated wasting food with stealing from the poor. Meanwhile, we waste millions of dollars on trinkets and distractions, while our children are enslaved by want.