The results of the meetings will then be combined into a report to be presented to the states governor to begin to implement. The task force hopes to have detailed ideas on how to reduce the numbers in poverty to Governor Ted Strickland by April 30th.
The latest in the series of meetings took place in Hamilton County. The Cincinnati Enquirer sent reporter Mark Curnutte to cover the meeting.
More than 60 social service providers - public and faith-based - private citizens and representatives of charitable foundations met for two hours Wednesday morning at the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency in Bond Hill. They formulated the county's response to Strickland's request from 22 communities across Ohio for his anti-poverty task force.
Participants exchanged information about job-training programs, earned-income tax credits for the poor and services to the elderly.
"A lot of dots connected, but the themes of jobs and education kept coming up," said John Young, president and CEO of the Freestore Foodbank.
More than 3.4 million Ohioans live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The federal poverty level for a family of six is $28,400. Ohio's task force will aim to provide practical and short- and long-term solutions to the state's poverty in the form of a five- to 10-year vision.
Poverty has deepened and spread across the state since the governor organized the task force in May by executive order. From the 22 discussions and sets of recommendations, the process will narrow to regional meetings. Then the anti-poverty task force will make recommendations to Strickland, said Amanda Wurst, his spokesperson.
This process through the state's community action agencies does not deal with federal economic stimulus money that might come into Ohio.
All major economic indicators for children show more strain on the Hamilton County's youngest citizens, according to a survey of the latest data available from the Children's Defense Fund and the Annie E. Casey Foundation's "Kids Count 2008" report for Ohio. The numbers and percentages of children under 18 living in poverty and receiving public health care, food stamps and free or reduced school lunches are up dramatically since 2001.