Wisconsin Schools See More Children in Poverty

Friday, December 2, 2011

More than four out of 10 school-aged children in Milwaukee are living in poverty, a jump of nearly 10 percentage points from 2007, according to new estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau that underscore another effect of the Great Recession.

The percentage of children in poverty residing in the Milwaukee Public Schools district rose to 41% in 2010 from 32.4% in pre-recession 2007, according to the bureau's 2010 income and poverty estimates for all counties and school districts.

Overall in the state, the percentage of Wisconsin children age 5 to 17 living in poverty rose from 12.9% to 17% in the three-year period.

"I've been doing this for eight years, and I don't ever remember seeing this much of an increase (in child poverty rates)," said John Johnson, spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. "The recession has had an impact on children and their families."

At the same time, Johnson added, there's uncertainty at the federal level as to what homeless aid funding and Title I funding for low-income schools will be available. And at the state level, other aid money that helps high-poverty districts has been cut, he said.

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