By Sun-Times Staff
Poverty rates among school-age children have increased in Cook and all of the collar counties since the start of the recession, according to U.S. Census data released Tuesday.
Of all the counties in the Chicago area, Kane saw the biggest jump in poverty rates among children ages 5 to 17 — from 9.7 percent in 2007 to 15.4 percent in 2010.
But only Cook County had a poverty rate in that age range above the 2010 national average of 19.8 percent. Cook County’s 2010 rate of 23.9 percent increased from 21 percent in 2007, according to the data.
Kendall County had the lowest poverty rate among school-age kids — 5.7 percent in 2010, up from 4.3 percent three years earlier.
Poverty often impacts how well kids do in school, says Michael E. Wooley, an associate professor at the University of Maryland and noted expert on school social work services.
“The more financial pressure on parents just to keep the heat and lights on and food on the table, the less able parents are to be available to kids in that respect,” Wooley said.
That means there’s a greater need for teachers and social workers to help identify poverty-stricken kids — to help their families access everything from food pantries to federal funding to pay for books, clothes and temporary housing, Wooley said.