Survey: More Delaware kids living in poverty than in 2008

 

DOVER — More Delaware kids are living in poverty now than during the 2008 recession, data in a new national survey show.

That adds up to about 41,000 children, according to the “Kids Count” annual survey by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The 2015 Data Book, which focuses on key trends in child well-being in the post-recession years, measures child well-being in four domains: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

Janice Barlow, the project director for “Kids Count” in Delaware, said the state tends to end up in the middle rankings each year.

Delaware, which ranks 25th overall for child well-being, mirrored national trends in this year’s report, notably in the uneven recovery for low-income families, the growth in child poverty, and improved health indicators.

According to the report, almost one in five children in Delaware — 18 percent — live in poverty in 2013, the latest year which data are available, up from 14 percent in 2008. Nearly one third of children are living in families where no parent has full-time employment.

Along with producing the national report, the Casey foundation supports Kids Counts projects in each of the state.

The state report, which came out in the spring and examined hundreds of indicators, drew the same conclusion this year — “Kids are in poverty. Way too many kids are in poverty,” Ms. Barlow said.

The number of children living in poverty shot up in Delaware during the recession, she said, after hitting a low between 2002 and 2004. It’s been rising ever since.

During recovery, although the outlook started to improve for society “as a whole,” it didn’t for children.

One theory, Ms. Barlow said, is that while jobs have come back, they are more often low-wage jobs without benefits.

More children are also being raised in single-parent households, Ms. Barlow said, “which is very closely related to the poverty measure.”

The rate of Delaware’s children without health insurance has been cut in half, down to 4 percent from 8 percent in 2008. The number of teens not in school and not working has improved to 6 percent from 9 percent in 2008.

“Not everything is gloom and doom, we are seeing some improvements in things,” Ms. Barlow said. According to the report, Delaware is down to just 4 percent of children without health insurance in 2013.

Tied to that is the state’s infant mortality rate, which has started to drop in the past three years.

Delaware ranks 21st for economic well-being this year, 26th for education, 25th for health and 28th for family and community.

Ms. Barlow said the national report is a helpful source — a chance for Delaware residents to look at how they measure up and what they need to do to get there.

“I think it’s kind of that natural competitive edge. Everyone wants to be number one,” she said.

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