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Child Poverty Rises 6 Percent In Bartholomew County

Family service agencies emphasize that alleviating child poverty is key to breaking the cycle of poverty.

The rate of child poverty in Bartholomew County jumped more than 6 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual KIDS COUNT report.

In 2009, 15.6 percent of children in Bartholomew County lived in poverty. That number rose to 22 percent just one year later—bringing it above the state average for the first time in more than 10 years. One in five children in Indiana live poverty, the report finds.

Several factors could have contributed to the jump including a 2008 flood that displaced hundreds of residents, and a 2009 fire that destroyed the United Way building.

Then, there was the recession. The county’s unemployment rate did not rise as drastically as some areas. Columbus Township Chief Deputy Trustee Roxanne Stallworth says many parents have jobs but are still having a hard time providing for their families.

“The real issue is that they aren’t finding jobs that meet just the basic needs,” she says. “In Bartholomew County you’re not going to be able to live on $8 or $9 an hour.”

Indiana Youth Institute President and CEO Bill Stanczykiewicz says Bartholomew County demonstrates just how big of a challenge the state faces.

“When you think of Columbus, you think wonderfully of Cummins. Cummins is growing, it’s expanding,” he says. “You think of a strong school district that has high academic achievement scores, and yet even there we’ve seen a fifty percent increase in child poverty over the past several years.”

Bartholomew County’s poverty rate has more than doubled in the past decade. In 2000, one in ten children in the area lived in poverty. Now, it is around one in five.

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