More children living in poverty, report finds

Amy Reese has witnessed firsthand the problem of children living in poverty.

And lately, from what she sees at her facility, she says things have been getting worse.

"It's increased definitely in the past six months," said Ms. Reese, the assistant director for women's and children's services at the Garden City Rescue Mission in Augusta. That uptick appears to be economy-based, she said.

"According to the phone calls we get, they say they just got evicted because they're unable to pay their rent," she said.

The continuing issue of children living in poverty in Georgia and South Carolina was highlighted in a Kids Count Data Book released Tuesday, with Georgia ranked 37th in the nation in that category and South Carolina 40th.

Among the local statistics, Richmond County had one of the highest rates of increase in child poverty , going from 15,509 children in 2006 to 17,683 in 2007. That's a nearly 5 percent increase.

Other counties say they're also seeing the trend.

Judy Steele, with Columbia County's Department of Family and Children Services, said Wednesday that the problem could be worse than what the Kids Count data show as it doesn't go through this year.

"It would probably be a little bit higher than what they've got from 2007 to now, especially with the economy the way it is. It's jumping up," she said.

Ms. Steele said that from August 2008 to May her office has seen a 25 percent increase in food stamp demand. Although she said having children isn't a requirement to get food stamps, most qualifying for them have children who live in poverty.

On the state level, the Kids Count report shows that the rate of children up to age 18 living in poverty in Georgia increased from 18 percent in 2000 to 20 percent in 2007.

South Carolina's increase was from 19 percent in 2000 to 21 percent in 2001.

The most recent Kids Count figure on the topic for Aiken County only goes through 2000, showing an increase of children living in poverty from 6,225 in 1990 to 7,114 in 2000.

In Columbia County, more recent Kids Count poverty numbers increased slightly from 2,417 in 2006 to 2,491 in 2007.

IN YOUR AREA

Find county-by-county data at the Web site: datacenter.kidscount.org