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Public aid need grows in Oklahoma, census finds

BY VALLERY BROWN AND PAUL MONIES Modified: September 29, 2009 at 12:01 am •  Published: September 29, 2009

/> "The bottom line for small children is that their brains and bodies are growing. That’s why it’s so important we have these programs,” she said.

Roberts said public assistance also alleviates stress on young children and their families.

This can help children get out of the cycle of poverty and reach their full potential, she said.

Among cities, one in four Oklahoma City and Tulsa households with children were on some type of public assistance.

In Lawton, the rate was estimated at 22.9 percent.

That was followed by Norman at 19.2 percent and Broken Arrow at 11.3 percent.

The Census Bureau did not release estimates for Edmond in that category.

"This is stressful on children and makes it harder for them to be at school, attentive and ready for success,” Blatt said. "So the problems of limited income have far reaching consequences throughout our society.”

Poverty levels
The state’s poverty rate was unchanged since last year at about 15.9 percent, or 579,000 Oklahomans, but still remained higher than the national poverty rate of 13.2 percent last year.

Poverty is defined as an income of $21,200 or less for a family of four.

"I think the concern is that even at the end of a period of strong economic growth, one in six Oklahomans were living below the poverty level,” Blatt said.

He said this shows some Oklahoma families were struggling to meet their basic needs before the recession.