INDIANAPOLIS - The number of children living in high-poverty communities in
Indiana has increased by 181 percent during the past decade, according to a
KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
An area is considered high-poverty if 30 percent or more of its residents
are below the poverty line.
Laura Speer, the Casey Foundation’s associate director of policy reform,
says children in these neighborhoods face challenges in almost every aspect
of their lives.
“Harmful levels of stress. They’re more likely to have behavioral and
emotional problems. They have more trouble in school, have lower test
In Indiana, 87,000 more children lived in the poorest neighborhoods in 2010
than in 2000. Nationally, the number went up 25 percent. It’s interesting to
note, Speer says, that about 75 percent of children living in an area of
concentrated poverty have at least one parent in the workforce.
Even if a family is not officially “in poverty” according to federal
standards, she says, it still harms children when a lot of other people in
the neighborhood are under that line.
“Living in an area of concentrated poverty limits the opportunities that
families have available to them in order to get a better job, in order to
make sure that the health and the welfare of their children is taken care
The report calls for transforming disadvantaged communities and makes
several recommendations which can be tailored to each area. Speer says the
idea is to make those neighborhoods better places to raise children.
“We know that it’s important to support the families in the communities in
terms of giving them access to financial coaching, as well as helping them
with gaining employment skills.”
She says the data also highlights the children most likely to live in such
“For children of color in the United States, they’re much more likely to
have poverty within their households be compounded by also living in a
high-poverty neighborhood and all the things that that means.”
African-American, American Indian and Latino children are six to nine times
more likely to live in high-poverty communities than are their white
counterparts. Regardless of race or ethnicity, children in the South and
Southwest also are more likely to live in areas of concentrated poverty.
The report is online at AECF.org