Children Living in High-Poverty Communities Surged 25% During Past Decade

Posted February 24, 2012
Newsrelease highpovertycommunities 2012

Near­ly 8 mil­lion of America’s chil­dren live in high-pover­ty areas—about 1.6 mil­lion more since 2000—according to a new KIDS COUNT data snap­shot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The lat­est data from the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau’s Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ty Sur­vey (ACS) show that about 7.9 mil­lion, or 11%, of the nation’s chil­dren are grow­ing up in areas where at least 30% of res­i­dents live below the fed­er­al pover­ty level—about $22,000 per year for a fam­i­ly of four. In 2000, 6.3 mil­lion kids, or 9%, were liv­ing in such com­mu­ni­ties, which often lack access to resources that are crit­i­cal to healthy growth and devel­op­ment, includ­ing qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion, med­ical care and safe out­door spaces.

Kids in these high-pover­ty areas are at risk for health and devel­op­men­tal chal­lenges in almost every aspect of their lives, from edu­ca­tion to their chances for eco­nom­ic suc­cess as adults,” said Lau­ra Speer, asso­ciate direc­tor for pol­i­cy reform and data at the Casey Foun­da­tion. Trans­form­ing dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties into bet­ter places to raise chil­dren is vital to ensur­ing the next gen­er­a­tion and their fam­i­lies real­ize their potential.”

The snap­shot also indi­cates that about 75% of chil­dren in areas of con­cen­trat­ed pover­ty have at least one par­ent in the labor force.

Accord­ing to the ACS, almost all states saw the num­ber of chil­dren in high-pover­ty neigh­bor­hoods climb. States with the high­est rates were Mis­sis­sip­pi (23%), New Mex­i­co (20%), Louisiana (18%), Texas (17%) and Ari­zona (16%). Although the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico saw their rates decline over the same peri­od, they con­tin­ue to have high­er rates—32 and 83%, respectively—than any state in the country.

The data also high­light the chil­dren most like­ly to live in areas of con­cen­trat­ed pover­ty. These include youth in the south and south­west, as well as those in urban and rur­al areas. African-Amer­i­can, Amer­i­can Indi­an and Lati­no chil­dren are six to nine times more like­ly to live in high-pover­ty com­mu­ni­ties than their white counterparts.

The new num­bers par­al­lel data released in the 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book, which indi­cat­ed a sig­nif­i­cant jump in child pover­ty over the last decade, as well as an increase in kids liv­ing in low-income families.

The new snap­shot includes the lat­est data for states and for the 50 largest cities, as does the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter, a source for the most recent nation­al, state and local data on hun­dreds of indi­ca­tors of child well-being. The Data Cen­ter allows users to cre­ate rank­ings, maps and graphs for use in pub­li­ca­tions and on web­sites, and to view real-time infor­ma­tion on mobile devices.

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