Tioga Poverty Survey Findings: The Young Are Leaving

Major findings of a needs assessment survey of Tioga county, commissioned by The Community Foundation of South Central New York (CFSCNY), were presented by Executive Director Diane Brown on June 23. Child poverty remains high, with the rate in Richford surpassing that of the Bronx, as well as poverty among the elderly.

Brown and Program Officer Tina Barber visited Tioga County on June 23 to go over a regional needs assessment the foundation had commissioned from Horn Research of Slaterville Springs, NY.
The assessment found that the population has decreased since the 2010 census in Tioga County, Brown said; down by 995 people or 1.9%. That number would have been far worse if not for growth in Richford of 2.9% or 34 people, Spencer grew by 5% or 150 people, and Berkshire increased 12.4%, or 170 people through 2013. Newark Valley lost the most percentage wise at 4.3% or 177 people, while Owego lost the most, 623 people or 3.1% of its population.

Brown said the young are moving out, leaving an aging population. The assessment shows a significant shift, with all demographic groups losing population except those over 60, which grew from 15.7% in 2010 to 18.3% in 2015, according to US census data. Meanwhile, poverty is going up across the region, and Tioga is no exception.
In 2015 11.4% of Tioga's people were below the poverty line, according to the Small Area Income and Poverty estimate. While the county is below the state's average of 15.6%, Brown said that significant pockets of poverty exist. Richford had the second highest childhood poverty rate at 46.1%, more than doubling since the 2000 census. Compare that to NYC's Bronx County at 43.3%. Spencer has a childhood poverty rate of 10.1%, while Candor is at 8.6%, down from 12.3% in 2000.

For seniors, Spencer has among the highest poverty rate in the county, at 10.5%, and for families with a female head of household, the poverty rate in Tioga County is 35%. The funding recommendation from CFSCNY is for programming supporting the nutritional and health needs of children and seniors in poverty.

CFSCNY found several funding areas to highlight in community health. Support and treatment services for mental health and chemical dependencies, chemical dependency prevention programming especially for youth, programming to ensure early identification of youth/adolescents health issues, access to transportation for mental health and chemical dependency treatment, anti-obesity programming, and training programs/recruitment programs for home health aides and other needed medical professionals will all be priorities for receiving grants.

Brown said that overall, the study found that Tioga County residents have limited access to low income health care, due to a lack of all types of providers. Compared to all counties in New York State, Tioga has the 5th worst access to primary physicians, ranks 43 out of 62 counties for mental health providers, and has the worst access to dentists. Tioga County has been designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area for primary and dental care as a result. Stakeholders also noted an urgent need for more home health and personal care aides.

Several concerns were raised by the Tioga County Department of Mental Hygiene, said Brown. The loss of supportive case management has left a large gap, which could be filled with an open access program to accommodate those with limited access to transportation. Providers reported that access to several services can be limited due to wait times, and funding changes and restrictions constrain their ability to serve clients. A particular concern is that is reimbursement for sexual abuse treatment is moved to clinics instead of contracted providers, people will be pushed into an already overloaded system.

Posted: Tuesday, July 5, 2016 6:00 am
by Rick Stilson