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Children's Defense Fund: Stimulus Shouldn't Leave Wisconsin Kids Behind

January 12, 2009

Madison, WI - A new report from the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) says Wisconsin fares relatively well when it comes to taking care of its young, but the group is urging lawmakers not to forget children when they decide how to rebuild the economy.

CDF's new State of America's Children report says Wisconsin is doing a better job than many other states, providing good health coverage and quality education. And, the state is listed as one of the most generous in providing cash assistance to poor children.

Despite that, CDF spokesman Ed Shelleby says, the poverty statistics are staggering.

"The number of children living in poverty in Wisconsin is nearly 187,000, which is a rate of about 14 percent; only slightly better than the national average."

In 2008, 81,000 Wisconsin children had no health insurance. Shelleby expects these numbers to increase due to the deepening recession and hopes Congress will consider children as they put together the plan to rescue the economy.

"We need to urge members of Congress and the administration to make children a priority. This is a very important year to do that."

Shelleby adds, the bailouts, as part of any economic recovery plan, must take the needs of children into account.

"While we're sending money to a litany of industries, we must remember that we can't forget children. You know, they're the ones that will be picking up this tab in the future."

The child poverty rate dropped substantially in the 1960s, then rose significantly in the early 1980s. Great strides were made in decreasing child poverty in the late 1990s, owing in part to the strong economy. However, the child poverty rate is higher in 2007 than at the beginning of the decade. Child poverty is closely tied to the overall health of the economy, rising in periods of recession.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - WI