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Kids Of Color In Illinois More Likely To Live In Impoverished Areas

Voices for Illinois Children

Nearly 90 percent of the children living in concentrated poverty in Illinois are nonwhite, according to a recent report by a child advocacy group. 

Concentrated poverty by the definition of the Annie E. Casey Foundation is when 30 percent or more of the population in a neighborhood is impoverished. The Foundation’s report was released this week.  

It shows there are about 300,000 children living in concentrated poverty in Illinois.

Bill  Byrnes, project manager for Voices for Illinois Children, which collaborates with the Casey Foundation, says children living in those areas have less access to healthy food, quality schools are medical care. 

“They also have – it turns out -- more exposure to environmental hazards such as high lead levels and poor air quality.”

The Casey Foundation also notes that  children living in higher levels of concentrated poverty also tend to end up earning less money later in life, Byrnes said.

“This is the legacy of historical race and class discrimination that has taken place not just in Illinois but throughout the nation.”.

Byrnes says that class discrimination limits access to job and wealth creation through home ownership.

The report found the highest concentrations of poverty in Cook County.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is news editor and equity and justice beat reporter for NPR Illinois, where she has been on the staff since 2014 after Illinois Issues magazine’s merger with the station. She joined the magazine’s staff in 1998 as projects editor and became managing editor in 2003. Prior to coming to the University of Illinois Springfield, she was an education reporter and copy editor at three local newspapers, including the suburban Chicago Daily Herald, She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in English from UIS.
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