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KIDS COUNT Reveals More Indiana Kids in Poverty

August 22, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - The lingering effects of the Great Recession are taking a toll on Indiana kids. The annual Kids Count report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows the Hoosier State at 31st in the nation for 10 health and economic factors related to child well-being.

Bill Stanczykiewicz, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, says a sizable proportion of Hoosier kids live in poverty. And that means they lack some basic things.

"Food and shelter and access to health care. But even bigger than that can be the hopelessness, the emotional destitution that sets in: 'Success is not for me - opportunity is not for me - so why should I even try?'"

Stanczykiewicz says the child poverty rate in Indiana started going up in the 2000s.

"20 percent of Indiana children are now living in poverty. And certainly the great recession is a big reason why - but what the recession did was pour gasoline on a fire that already existed."

Stanczkiewicz says that, while one in five kids in Indiana lives in poverty, their parents and caretakers can take steps to better their situations.

"For the adults, we need to do all we can to encourage them to take full advantage of workforce training and education programs - which in Indiana go underutilized."

Stanczykiewicz says Hoosiers who are better off should reach out to charities and organizations that help the poor. He says the Kids Count Book shows low birth weights are still a major problem in Indiana, but that the teen birth rate, while still higher than the national average, has declined some.

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN