Illinois children are gaining ground in some social measures but losing economically, according to the latest national Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Illinois rates fourth in the percentage of children covered by health insurance, fifth in the percentage of three- and four-year-olds in preschool and is about average in many of the report’s other sixteen indicators.
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Larry Joseph, director of the fiscal policy center for Voices for Illinois Children, credits the expansion and introduction of programs such as Medicaid, CHIP, and All Kids. He says former Gov. Rod Blagojevich gets only part of the credit for the growth, adding the initiatives started to increase under former Gov. George Ryan.
The economy, says Joseph, is a problem. “At the beginning of the decade, in 2000, there were 262,000 Illinois kids living in high-poverty communities, and there are now probably more than 300,000. That’s a notable trend that we didn’t know about.”