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Tens of thousands of Mass. children still live in areas of concentrated poverty, report says

A recent report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a philanthropy organization for poor children, says tens of thousands of children in Massachusetts still live in areas of concentrated poverty, though the number has declined as the nation has recovered from the Great Recession.

The foundation, in a recent data snapshot, compared population data from the US Census Bureau for the years 2008 to 2012 and for the years 2013 to 2017. It found that for the more recent period, 90,000 children, or 6 percent, lived in areas of concentrated poverty, down from 114,000, or 8 percent, in the earlier period.


The report said around 8.5 million children nationwide now live in areas of concentrated poverty, down from around 9.4 million in the earlier period.

While that’s good news, it still means many children are left behind, the foundation said.

“Our nation is currently in the midst of a long period of economic expansion. Yet stagnant wages, rising housing costs and inaccessible job opportunities keep many children and families trapped in impoverished communities,” the foundation said.

“It is imperative that national, state and local officials, as well as philanthropic and business leaders, act to transform the communities where low-income families live. Building strong neighborhoods that foster stable, healthy families will strengthen the nation as a whole,” the foundation said.

An area of concentrated poverty is defined as a census tract with an overall poverty rate of 30 percent or more.

Other national findings in the report included:

■  In 25 states, at least 10 percent of kids are growing up in concentrated poverty. Seventeen of those states were in the South and West.

■  African-American and Native American children were seven times more likely than white children to live in concentrated poverty.

“Growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods has long-term impacts on our kids,” said Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a nonpartisan research group in Boston, in a statement.


“All children and families deserve quality education, housing and access to opportunity. Investing in solutions that uplift children in poverty will create the change needed for everyone in the Commonwealth to thrive,” Rivera said.

The data snapshot was released by KIDS COUNT, a project of the foundation intended to track the status of children in the United States and provide data on children’s well-being to enrich policy discussions. MassBudget is the foundation’s KIDS COUNT partner for Massachusetts.

Martin Finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com