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State

Report: More Illinois children living in poverty

CHICAGO – The number of Illinois children living in areas of high poverty has increased by about a third since 2000, according to a report released Tuesday.

The annual data report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation estimates 347,000 Illinois children live in areas of concentrated poverty. That means more than 1 in 10 children live in neighborhoods where the poverty rate is 30 percent or higher, according to data up to 2012.

This year’s Kids Count report also found some encouraging news about Illinois. There’s been a long-term decline in births to teenage mothers. Other health and education indicators are hopeful. And Illinois improved on 11 out of 16 measures. Illinois ranks 20th among states for overall child well-being, according to the report.

The state’s child poverty rate in 2012 was 21 percent, compared to 16 percent in 2005.

“We continue to see the lingering effects of the recession on children and families,” said Voices for Illinois Children president Gaylord Gieseke in a statement. “A large body of research tells us that growing up in poverty, especially in early childhood, can harm children’s health, their cognitive and social-emotional development, their academic achievement, and their economic opportunities as adults.”

Gieseke called on lawmakers to strengthen early learning programs for Illinois children in poor families and other initiatives aimed at lessening the effects of child poverty.

This is the 25th year the foundation has put out its comprehensive scorecard of child well-being across the country.

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