Group: Number of children in poverty up 43 percent in five years

Group: Number of children in poverty up 43 percent in five years

CHAMPAIGN — The number of kids living in poverty in Champaign County grew by nearly 43 percent in five years, according to a new report released Thursday by the statewide organization Voices for Illinois Children.

The annual Kids Count report, released Thursday, found 23.4 percent of Champaign County children were living at or below the poverty line in 2011, compared to 16.7 percent in 2006.

Poverty also grew among Vermilion and Coles county kids, the only other East Central Illinois counties for which numbers are available.

The report gave an overview of kids statewide, but provided rates of poverty and other statistics only for the 50 largest counties.

In Vermilion County, the number of children living in poverty rose by nearly 10 percent in the years between 2006 and 2011, with a child poverty rate of 34 percent in 2011, researchers found using U.S. Census data.

In Coles County, 25.6 percent of kids were at the poverty line in 2011, with the number of the county's needy kids growing in those same five years by nearly 60 percent.

Children in poverty live in homes in which the household income is at or below the federal poverty limit.

In 2011, that meant a household income of $18,530 for a family of three and $22,350 for a family of four.

This year, a family of three earning $19,790 and a family of four earning $23,850 would be at the poverty line.

The findings go hand-in-hand with what the Eastern Illinois Food Bank has been experiencing as the 14 counties in its service area have coped with the recession, says the food bank's Executive Director Jim Hires says.

Champaign, Coles and Vermilion counties have the highest levels of poverty in the food bank's service area, and are the three counties on the food bank's watch list, he said.

Champaign and Coles counties have been the first two counties targeted for the opening of food pantries in schools to help get food to hungry kids in their families, Hires said.

"People work, but they are just unable to make ends meet," he said.

Sue Grey, president and CEO of the United Way of Champaign County, said as poverty has risen among children, her agency has seen many first-time families seeking assistance with food, shelter and utilities.

"They had never had to do that before," she said. "They were able to get by."

Agencies serving the poor have also steadily asked the United Way for more money, Grey said.

"The need isn't going away," she adds.

The Kids Count report, entitled this year "Child Health Matters," is an annual benchmark of educational, social, economic, and physical well-being of Illinois children.

The effects of poverty on children are extensive, the authors wrote. Children living in poverty are more likely to suffer from lower birth weights, chronic medical conditions, social and emotional problems, inadequate nutrition and exposure to violence.

This year's report revealed disturbing health disparities related to such factors as family income, race and ethnicity, special health care needs, according to the report.

For example, low-income kids are more likely to be overweight or obese, less likely to be physically active and more likely to have oral health problems. African-American kids are most likely to have poor birth outcomes, such as low birth weight, and are more likely to have asthma, and Latino kids are the least likely to have coordinated, consistent medical care.

Some other findings in the report:

— Both Champaign and Vermilion counties (along with Sangamon, Peoria, Cook, Livingston and Macon counties) were identified as those with the highest rates of reported crimes against children for 2009-2011, using an average number of reported crimes for those years.

— Statewide, 625,000 Illinois kids lived below the poverty line in 2011, and 1.26 million kids were considered low-income, living below 200 percent of the federal poverty limit.

— About 15 percent of Illinois children have special health care needs, but about 40 percent of those children don't have adequate health insurance.

— Illinois has made progress reducing disparities in children's health insurance coverage, with the proportion of children without coverage declining from 6 percent in 2008 to 3 percent in 2012.

— The number of children without health insurance has also declined in Champaign, Coles and Vermilion counties, standing in 2011 at 4.2 percent in Champaign, 3.1 percent in Coles and 3.5 percent in Vermilion.

— In 2011, one-fifth of male high school students in Illinois reported carrying a weapon such as a gun, knife or club in the past 30 days.

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787 wrote on March 06, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Yet another democrat success story...  But we're not in a recession anymore, right?

gottaxed wrote on March 06, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Today, taxpayers lose their earnings to fund roughly 80 different means tested programs at a cost of over  $1 trillion a year. These include:
12 programs providing food aid;
12 programs funding social services;
12 educational assistance programs;
11 housing assistance programs;
10 programs providing cash assistance;
9 vocational training programs;
7 medical assistance programs;
3 energy and utility assistance programs; and,
3 child care and child development programs.
When does it end? Where does it stop?

When do people have to start taking some responsibility for themselves and their children?  I know this provides a lot of jobs to the Welfare Industrial Complex, Poverty Pimps and Welfare Wonks but it has to stop someday or the country is going down the tubes.

susselsprout wrote on March 06, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Not surprisingly, this statistic aligns almost perfectly with the out-of-wedlock birth rate. The relationship between single parenthood and poverty (among other ills) is well established. Choosing to bring a child into this world as a single parent might be fashionable, but the kids are the ones who suffer for it.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 06, 2014 at 7:03 pm

All of the Tea Party poo-poo aside; the number of poor kids increased rapidly over five years.  The fact remains that kids are growing up hungry in poor housing with inadequate clothing for the winters.  You can blame it on the recession, or any other causation; but not the kids.  It is pretty heartless to not give a damn about the kids; but that is the mindset that some "Americans" have about it.

yates wrote on March 11, 2014 at 10:03 am

This is indeed a democrat success story. By plan it keeps familys dependent on  government handouts and the only sure way to get more is to keep voting democrat. Obamas plan is working perfectly.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 11, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Yeah; it is all one big conspiracy with black helicopters, secret camps, and fluorinated water which is all run by the omnipetent Obama, and his democrat minions.

It is about economic disparity, education, and opportunity.  The dependent families are republican, and democrat.  Most of them do not even vote.  They have started to give up.  They used to think that their children's lives would be better than theirs; but they see that will not happen.  They are veterans looking for a job.  They are single mothers.  They are the under-employed who were laid off, and have not been able to find full-time employment.  They are old people, and they are children.  They are the increasing "47%".  

Hang on to your love for Ted Nugent, the Tea Party, and Honey Boo-Boo.  Your in the minority; and it shrinks daily. 

yates wrote on March 12, 2014 at 10:03 am

Hang on to you love for liberialism and the 47% will rise accordingly. Next the democrat controlled state legislature will try to cut debt by reducing pension benefits some way....oh wait, people earned that didn't they. I guess nobody likes to have their money confiscated and redistributed, do they.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 12, 2014 at 10:03 am

You are right in your comments.  Perhaps; the only hope left is for the 47% to become the 99%, and "rise accordingly".  When people see no future, and lose faith in the two party system; change will come about.  That time is coming as it has to other countries recently, and in the past.   Thesis versus antithesis equals synthesis.