Supplemental Poverty Measure shows value of programs, need to address income

February 25, 2015

CONTACT: Sharon Kayne, Communications Director, NM Voices for Children, 505-244-9505

ALBUQUERQUE—If it were not for governmental anti-poverty programs—such as SNAP, housing assistance, and tax credits—an additional 100,000 New Mexico children would live below the poverty level. That’s among the conclusions in a report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The KIDS COUNT® Data Snapshot, Measuring Access to Opportunity in the United States, reveals how the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) more accurately measures poverty because it takes into account the value of programs that aim to reduce poverty. New Mexico’s child poverty rate in 2011-2013 was 36 percent, but falls to 16 percent when these programs are taken into account with the SPM.

“This tells us that anti-poverty programs are working to improve the lives of New Mexico children,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which is a grantee of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “It also tells us how important it is to keep these programs fully funded and serving the families that rely on them.”

The official Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which is based on family income, determines eligibility for anti-poverty programs, most of which are funded by the federal government. The SPM was created to determine if these programs are having the desired effect. It not only includes the value of these programs to the families that receive them, it also takes into account the cost of living in different regions of the country. The SPM shows that states like New Mexico, where the cost of living is low, benefit more from anti-poverty programs.

“It’s critical to have programs that help parents put enough food on the table, pay the rent, and keep the utilities turned on. And while the supplemental poverty measure shows us the extent to which these programs are helpful, it also shows us, conversely, how much work we still have to do in order to give families the tools they need to better support their families,” Dr. García said. “We need the kinds of two-generation policies and programs that help families raise themselves out of poverty, including more resources for parents to improve their levels of education, expanding access to high-quality early childhood services, changing tax policies so the lowest-income earners don’t shoulder the lion’s share of the responsibility, and creating more jobs that pay family-sustaining wages.”

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s report, Measuring Access to Opportunity in the United States, is available at

A fact sheet explaining the differences in the two poverty measurements is attached as a pdf.