Individuals are considered to be living in poverty in those instances where their family income before taxes (i.e., gross, pre-tax, cash income) does not exceed the poverty threshold (i.e., minimum resources an individual or family of a given size needs to meet their basic needs).
The Federal and State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as well as the value of non-cash benefits such as public housing, SNAP, Medicaid or school meals are not included when calculating family income. In addition, certain costs such as taxes and work-related expenses are not subtracted from family income in determining the number of children who are poor.
Since it was developed in the early 1960s based on the cost of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economy Food Plan, the official poverty threshold has been updated annually by the change in the Consumer Price Index. In 2015, the official poverty threshold was $24,250 for a two-adult, two-child family and $20,090 for a one adult, two-child family.
There is much controversy concerning where the poverty line should be drawn and what family income and resources should count in determining if a family is above or below that line. As a result, the number of children in poverty should not be considered a precise measure of how many children lack the income and resources required to meet basic needs. Instead, the poverty measure should be used to assess the relative differences between counties in the number of children near or below the minimum required to meet basic needs, as well as to examine trends over time within counties in the number of children living with minimal economic resources.
NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates Program (SAIPE); U.S. Bureau of the Census.
- The SAIPE estimates of poverty rates in each county are based on statistical models that use a variety of data available for each county to predict the poverty rate for that county.
- Percentages reflect children/youth ages birth-17 years living below poverty.