February 16, 2015

Grant County Tops State In Child Poverty

Grant County Tops State In Child Poverty

A new state survey of children’s issues shows that Grant County has the highest number of children in poverty in Indiana. 

A yearly survey by the Indiana Youth Institute keeps track of the state of Hoosier kids.  This year, the numbers show that one-third of children in Grant County are living in poverty. 

Alicia Hazelwood, executive director of the United Way of Grant County, says living in a home that’s not able to pay its bills each month does have a direct effect on children.

"There may be changing, moving, parents getting divorced," Hazelwood said. "They don’t perform as well when they go to school hungry.  Maybe there’s not enough food in the home to meet the needs of the children.”

But Hazelwood stresses that not all children who live in poverty have parents that don’t work.  The numbers from the Indiana Youth Institute illustrate this. State data shows that almost 91 percent of Hoosier children live in a home where one or both parents have a job.  Twenty-eight percent of Hoosier families, though, say it is difficult to pay for basics like food and housing with their current income.

In Grant County, Hazelwood says the problem is under-employment.  Like many Hoosier locations, Grant County lost high-paying manufacturing jobs and replaced them with service industry positions.

“So we’ve got home care health providers. We’ve got childcare providers. We’ve got nurses," Hazelwood said. "And we have a lot of individuals that are working, but they’re not working at a steady-enough rate either by hourly wage or number of hours that they work. So they end up in that kind of struggling area.”

Each year, the United Way calculates a “household survival budget” for the county – how much basic living expenses cost.  This year, it will cost a family with children about $44,000 to live in Grant County.  According to the Indiana Youth Institute, the median household income in the county is $39,000.

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