Monday, September 28, 2009

Washington state's Kids Count says 40,000 children slip into poverty

The annual Kids Count survey for Washington state says that 40,000 children will into poverty by 2010. The numbers will wipe out any gains the state has made in fighting poverty since 1975.

From The Spokesman Review, writer Shawn Vestal talks to a Kids Count director and also cites an additional survey.

When Lori Pfingst considers the statistics that will tell the tale of this recession, she isn’t thinking about GDP or unemployment.

She’s thinking about teen pregnancy. Low birthweight babies. WASL scores and college enrollments.

As the recession swells the ranks of the impoverished, it takes a particular, long-term toll on children, experts say. In Washington state alone, nearly 40,000 children are expected to slip into poverty by 2010; nationwide, an additional 800,000 kids entered poverty between 2007 and 2008, before the recession really hit.

And however quickly the economy begins its official recovery, the consequences for kids living in poverty are wide-ranging. Children who grow up in poor households tend to do worse in school and end up in trouble with the law. They’re less likely to go to college and more likely to get pregnant at a young age. They’re more likely to commit crimes or become victims of crimes, and more likely to grow up and live in poverty themselves.

“The impact of this really can’t be overstated,” said Pfingst, assistant director of Washington KidsCount, an annual statistical survey of children’s well-being. “When children are born into poverty, it affects every single outcome of their lives.”

A new report from Duke University asserts that the recession will undo decades of progress for children and families. Duke’s Child and Youth Well-Being Index measures a range of categories; it estimates that all progress made in “family economic well-being” since 1975 will be wiped out by this recession.

The Duke index predicts that families will suffer from the expected kinds of effects, such as joblessness, lower incomes or homelessness. But it also suggests that children will pay other prices, in greater obesity and health problems, because families will be more likely to rely on low-cost fast food; on social relationships and stability, as families are forced to move; and on increased behavioral problems and crime, with young people as both victims and perpetrators.

“The impact of the current recession on children will be dramatic,” the Duke report concludes.

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