FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- One in seven Connecticut children in families lived in poverty in 2013, a rate unchanged from 2012, but a substantial increase from a decade earlier, according to data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rate of 10.8 percent of children living in poverty in 2003 in the Nutmeg state rose to 14.3 percent in 2013, according to the data as analyzed by Connecticut Voices for Children.
Among all residents, Hispanics had the highest levels of poverty at 25.7 percent, followed by African Americans at 20.0 percent, and white residents at 6.1 percent.
“The effects of growing up in poverty are devastating,” said Ellen Shemitz, executive director of Connecticut Voices for Children. “Research shows us that poor children often face a lifetime of diminished health, education, and economic opportunities.”
Childhood poverty in major Connecticut cities ranged from 6.9 percent in Norwalk to 47.6 percent in Hartford. Here are the rates for cities in Fairfield County:
- Bridgeport: 32.7 percent
- Danbury: 14.4 percent
- Norwalk: 6.9 percent
- Stamford: 18.6 percent
Wade Gibson, director the Fiscal Policy Center at Connecticut Voices, put the poverty rate in context, comparing the poverty threshold of $23,834 for a family of four to the state median income of $67,098.
“Low-income Connecticut families have been hardest hit by the recession. We can support these families, and improve outcomes for children, through continued support for programs such as the state Earned Income Tax Credit.”
Data on the uninsured painted a more positive picture, according to Sharon Langer, advocacy director at Connecticut Voices for Children. The rate of children lacking health insurance is only 4.3 percent statewide, compared with 7.1 percent nationwide. Langer attributed these rates to the success of the state’s HUSKY program.
Here are the percentage of uninsured children for cities in Fairfield County:
- Bridgeport: 7.2 percent
- Danbury: 6.7 percent
- Norwalk: 27.1 percent
- Stamford: 2.3 percent
“While we are pleased that the poverty rate is no longer rising in Connecticut, we remain concerned that one-third of Bridgeport's children are living in poverty,” said Robin Lamott Sparks, senior director of policy and research at the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition. “We must redouble our collective efforts to help our most vulnerable residents.”
Edith Karsky, executive director of the Connecticut Association for Community Action Inc., the state association for Connecticut's 10 Community Action Agencies, said, “Year after year, our agencies continue to see an increase in the number of struggling individuals and families at or near poverty asking for assistance?many of whom have never asked before. These poverty estimates remind us that threat of falling into poverty is all too real, and should frame the bigger discussion of how Connecticut moves forward in the future.”
Connecticut Voices for Children is a research-based think tank that works to advance policies that benefit the state’s children, youth, and families. For more information, visit its website at ctvoices.org.
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