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New Report Notes Concentrated Poverty Disparities Among Illinois Kids

There are significant racial and ethnic disparities among the 300,000 Illinois kids living in high-poverty neighborhoods, according to a new report. (AdobeStock)
There are significant racial and ethnic disparities among the 300,000 Illinois kids living in high-poverty neighborhoods, according to a new report. (AdobeStock)
September 24, 2019

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois has fewer kids growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods, but advocates say it's still a troubling problem. According to an Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count data snapshot released today, 10% of Illinois kids live in areas of concentrated poverty - that's a 9% decrease in the time period between 2013-2017 compared to the previous 4-year period.

However, Bill Byrnes, Kids Count project manager with Voices for Illinois Children, cited rather significant disparities between racial and ethnic groups.

“Thirty-seven percent of black children live in areas of concentrated poverty; Latinex children live in concentrated poverty at a rate of 11%; and Asian and white children live in concentrated poverty at rates of 2% and 3%, respectively,” Byrnes said.

Illinois' overall rate of 10% is tied with Indiana, but lower than the national average of 12%.

The associate state director of advocacy with the Casey Foundation, Scot Spencer, said stagnant wages, rising housing costs and inaccessible job opportunities keep many families trapped in impoverished communities.

"There may be housing instability where kids may have to move from house to house because the parents or the adults in their lives are forced to make choices between whether they're going to pay rent or pay for heat; or whether they will have dinner on the table at night, or whether they get the medicine they need,” Spencer said.

The report offered some solutions including property-ownership models that preserve affordable housing. And Byrnes added there also are opportunities to improve the economic well-being of families.

"They also recommend that public and philanthropic sectors increase job-training opportunities to people in areas of concentrated poverty,” Byrnes said. “Voices would also recommend specifically that increasing the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour and ensuring that it keeps up with inflation."

In Illinois, 300,000 kids live in high-poverty neighborhoods; nationally it's 8.5 million.

Disclosure: Annie E Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Education, Juvenile Justice, Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL