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Local welfare officials see domino effect toppling Malheur County families, leaving kids in poverty

Jennie Knott, an instructional assistant at Treasure Valley Children's Relief, provides developmental therapy to a child at the nursery. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)

VALE – Malheur County has the second highest rate of childhood poverty in the state, according to a new report. The county also hugs the bottom in other measures reviewed by Children First for Oregon in 2019.

The state child advocacy program showed 30% of the county’s children live in poverty. The state average sits at 16.5%. 

“This is not just a child welfare concern,” said Wendy Hill, district manager for self sufficiency and child welfare programs at the Department of Human Services in Ontario. “It’s really a community concern.”

Several factors may be at the root of the county’s impoverishment, said Jenifer Wagley, executive director of Children First . . .