The number of Utah children living in poverty has increased by 45% during a 5-year period beginning in 2005, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count Data Center study, which included children up to age 17.
Karen Crompton with Voices for Utah Children, a local advocacy group, says the statistic is alarming:
"You know we don't have so many children living in poverty that we can't begin to address it. We don't have deep pockets of inner-city poverty like many states do. This is truly something we can get our arms around. And while we may not be able to solve the poverty this year or next year, there are certainly things we can do to improve the conditions and enhance the possibility of outcomes for kids."
25% of children living in San Juan County are considered to be living in poverty, which translates into 1,300 children. Percentage-wise that is the highest rate in Utah. In Cache County nearly 6,000 live in poverty, and 9,000 in Washington County. Morgan County has the lowest percentage of children living in poverty in the state.
Crompton says many of those children qualify for state run health insurance programs but need assistance in finding ways to enroll. And, she says the state needs to invest in pre-school programs for children at risk.