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Racial Disparities in Child Poverty Persist in Connecticut

Nationally, 28% of African-American and 19% of Latinx children live in areas of concentrated poverty. (poco_bw/Adobe Stock)
Nationally, 28% of African-American and 19% of Latinx children live in areas of concentrated poverty. (poco_bw/Adobe Stock)
September 24, 2019

HARTFORD, Conn. — A new report shows fewer Connecticut children are living in concentrated poverty, but wide racial disparities persist.

The report, from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, cited an 11% decline in the number or children living in areas of the state where 30% or more live below the poverty line. But according to Liz Fraser, policy director at the Connecticut Association for Human Services, only 1-in-100 white children in the state lives in concentrated poverty, while for African-American and Latinx children, that number is 1-in-5.

"That is an extreme gap in opportunity that we are perpetuating by not addressing the issues of our cities especially, and those rural areas that have higher concentrations of poverty,” Fraser said.

Nationally, 8.5 million children - or 12% of all children - live in concentrated poverty.

Scot Spencer, associate state director of advocacy with the Annie E Casey Foundation, noted that children growing up in high-poverty areas often lack access to healthy food and medical care, and are more likely to be exposed to environmental hazards and violence and live in poverty after they grow up.

"Living in high-poverty neighborhoods puts young people at risk,” Spencer said. “And we think that they really deserve to live in communities where they can learn, play and grow."

The report recommended job training and development programs, building more affordable housing and changes to zoning laws to address concentrations of poverty.

Fraser pointed out that Connecticut has some of the wealthiest communities in the country as well as areas of extreme poverty.

"We have to come together as a Connecticut family and say that's just not acceptable, and start putting some real resources and innovations into communities,” Fraser said.

She added that investing in children and families now will lead to healthier outcomes for children and savings on social services in the future.

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