Number of Georgia Children Living in High-Poverty Areas Surges

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The number of children living in high-poverty areas in Georgia has increased by 81 percent over the past 10 years, according to High-Poverty Communities Surge in Georgia, a new Georgia KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot from Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP).

The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) show that 264,000, or 11 percent, of Georgia’s children are growing up in areas where at least 30 percent of the residents live below the federal poverty level—about $22,000 per year for a family of four. In 2000, 146,000 children, or 7 percent, were living in disadvantaged communities. Families living in areas of concentrated poverty are more likely to struggle to meet their children’s basic needs, and children are more likely to have behavioral issues, be expelled from school, have more school absences, and have fewer opportunities for positive youth experiences.

“Children in high-poverty neighborhoods are more likely to lack access to quality education, medical care, and safe outdoor spaces,” said GaFCP Executive Director Gaye Smith. “The prosperity of our state and country is dependent on having a robust economy, with safe, thriving neighborhoods and opportunities for family economic success.” 

According to the ACS, one out of four children in Georgia lives in poverty. The rate of child poverty in this state has steadily increased during the past four years and is at its highest rate in 40 years. More than 613,000 of Georgia’s children lived in poverty in 2010.

The ACS data show that Atlanta has the fifth highest rate among the nation’s largest cities of children living in areas of concentrated poverty (43 percent). However, concentrated poverty is widespread throughout the state. Half of Georgia’s 159 counties have areas of concentrated poverty. Bibb, Bulloch, Chatham, Clarke, DeKalb, Fulton, and Muscogee counties have areas of concentrated poverty of 70 percent or higher.

Georgia Family Connection collaborative organizations are in every county working with local partners to address specific community needs related to improving outcomes for children and families.  Two of those collaboratives are part of the highly competitive national U.S. Department of Education Promise Neighborhoods Initiative, which focuses efforts on areas of concentrated poverty. A Promise Neighborhood is a community of opportunity—centered on strong schools—that allows children to learn, grow, and succeed. Promise Neighborhoods wrap children in high-quality, coordinated health, social, community and educational support from cradle to college to career.

“Through the new, geographically focused approach, we are seeing culture change and a powerful new level of improvement,” said Tim Johnson, executive director of Athens/Clarke County Family Connection-Communities in Schools.

Travis Blackwell, executive director of Bibb County Community Partnership, is working with a cross-section of agencies, volunteers, educators, local government leaders, and residents in Macon on both the Promise Neighborhood and International Communities of Shalom Program.

“Efforts to eradicate poverty often fail because we focus our strategies on only one cause of poverty—the behavior of the individual rather than the root causes of poverty,” said Blackwell.

The new Georgia snapshot includes the latest poverty data, compares Georgia’s high poverty areas to the rest of the nation, and promising practices.

The national KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot on High-Poverty Communities, released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, includes the latest data for states and for the nation’s 50 largest cities. This information is available in the national KIDS COUNT Data Center (datacenter.kidscount.org).

Read Georgia’s Data Snapshot.

For interactive statewide data, visit Georgia KIDS COUNT at gafcp.org/kidscount.

Contact:
Naja Williamson
Georgia KIDS COUNT coordinator
404-527-7394 (x133)
[email protected]

William Valladares
GaFCP Communications Manager
404-527-7394 (x114)
[email protected]

Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP) is a public/private partnership created by the State of Georgia and funders from the private sector to assist communities in addressing the serious challenges facing children and families. GaFCP also serves as a resource to state agencies across Georgia that work to improve the conditions of children and families. Georgia KIDS COUNT provides policymakers and citizens with current data they need to make informed decisions regarding priorities, services, and resources that impact Georgia’s children, youth, families, and communities. Georgia KIDS COUNT is funded, in part, through a grant from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private charitable organization dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States.