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Report: More Neb. Children Living in High-Poverty Neighborhoods

Kids living in high-concentrated areas of poverty frequently do not have access to sidewalks, safe places to play and other opportunities available in wealthier census tracts. (Needpix)
Kids living in high-concentrated areas of poverty frequently do not have access to sidewalks, safe places to play and other opportunities available in wealthier census tracts. (Needpix)
September 24, 2019

RALSTON, Neb. — Nebraska is one of ten states in the nation that saw an increase in the number of children living in concentrated poverty since the Great Recession a decade ago, according to new data from The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Researchers looked at neighborhoods where poverty rates are 30% or more, and found 8.5 million children nationwide lived in these areas between 2013 and 2017. Chrissy Tonkinson is the research coordinator for Voices for Children in Nebraska.

"Over the last seven years, since the last time that the Annie E. Casey Foundation published this report, we went up to 8% of our children in Nebraska living in these high-concentrated poverty areas,” Tonkinson said.

She said 36,000 Nebraska kids now are living in poverty, but some communities are impacted more than others. The data showed that more than three-quarters of the state's children living in poverty are non-white, and some 14,000 live in immigrant families.

Scot Spencer, associate state director of advocacy with the Casey Foundation, said growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods affects practically every part of children's lives. They tend to lack access to healthy food and quality medical care, often face greater exposure to environmental hazards and can experience higher levels of chronic stress linked to diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Spencer added that when these children grow up, they are more likely to have lower incomes than children who have relocated away from communities of concentrated poverty.

"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 Casey Foundation report offers some remedies, including property-ownership models that preserve affordable housing and ensuring all neighborhoods have quality schools, access to job opportunities, reliable transportation and safe places for recreation.

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.
Eric Galatas, Public News Service - NE