June 16th, 2010

The Southern Education Foundation released a report yesterday entitled The Worst of Times: Children in Extreme Poverty in the South and Nation. The report’s findings include:

  • 15.6 percent of children in rural Alabama counties live in extreme poverty
  • 10.8 percent of all Alabama children live in extreme poverty
  • The highest rate of extreme childhood poverty is found in Dallas county, where 28.2 percent of children live in extreme poverty (the lowest, Shelby County, is 3.2 percent)

Any household living at or below 50% of the federal poverty line income is classified as living in extreme poverty. For a family of 4, that would mean living on less than $10,975 a year.

Below – Extreme Child Poverty Rates in Small-Population Counties by State: 2008

The report highlights some troubling nationwide trends in extreme poverty since the recession started. Notably, “the recession has expanded the number of children in extreme poverty by approximately 26 percent — adding almost 1.5 million children in extreme poverty across the nation since 2008,” and “school districts with the largest reported percentages of extremely poor children appear to have the least money to educate these children in the schools.”

Finally, the report notes, “Local, state or federal policies in education fail to specifically address the needs of the nation’s poorest children.”

The Alabama State Commission to Reduce Poverty is examining these issues and is seeking community-based solutions to end the extreme poverty in our state.