New Tool Gives More Accurate Measure of Financial Stability
Since 1963, the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), issued annually by the Department for Health and Human Services, has been used to establish financial eligibility for government programs and benefits. Families are characterized as “poor” if their income is below the FPL. The FPL only accounts for spending on food, and does not include what families spend on basic needs, such as housing, food, transportation, child care and health care. Until now, South Carolina has had few only had this tools to use as a basis for determining the amount of income needed to meet the needs of maintaining a household and other expenses without being on the verge of needing emergency assistance.
In January 2016, the United Way Association of South Carolina published a more comprehensive measurement tool, The Self-Sufficiency Standard for South Carolina 2016 (The Standard). Trident United Way is sharing this new tool with the Tri-County region’s decision-makers to provide them with the meaningful data they need to affect progress toward real economic security.
The Standard describes how much income families of various sizes and compositions need to make ends meet without public or private assistance in each of the 46 counties.
“Increasing the number of financially stable families in the Tri-County area is a major focus within Trident United Way’s vision, especially since this region is one of the most expensive to live in.” said Djuanna Brockington, Trident United Way’s director of financial stability. “The Standard is a much more accurate calculation of what it takes to live in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester Counties.”
Trident United Way is educating legislators on these findings, while also encouraging the adoption of The Standard as the income measurement tool for South Carolina – the 38th state to collect this data in partnership with the University of Washington. Copies of The Standard are being distributed at the State House with hopes of generating a larger conversation centered on financial stability for families across the state.
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