Children living in poverty in Eau Claire rising sharply

By: Amelia Cerling Email
By: Amelia Cerling Email

According to US census data, more children in the Eau Claire School District are experiencing poverty, with no relief in sight.

Across the state of Wisconsin, the percentage of school aged kids living in poverty has grown by more than 30 percent. Here in Eau Claire, the Department of Public Instruction says 14 percent of children living in Eau Claire are living in poverty; that's up more than 50 percent from just four years ago.

And those rising poverty rates are putting added stress on students and their teachers, as instructors struggle to provide emotional and social support to their students.

Thursday we visited Longfellow Elementary which has the highest percentage of students living at or below the poverty line in Eau Claire, at 82 percent of students.

A teacher at Longfellow for more than a decade, Angie Printz says there are things teachers notice that hint at a life lived without the basic essentials

“The way kids come to school, we have kids that their parents aren't able to afford daycare, so they come not ready they may not have socks, or a jacket so we do need to take the time to find the clothing that they need,” Printz explains.

She says many teachers spend a lot of time simply addressing basic needs like food and clothing,” It does take time away, in order for kids to be comfortable and to feel safe, they need to feel that way before they can learn,” she explains.

Danielle Claesges is the school district's homeless program coordinator. She says the number of homeless children attending school is also on the rise. And, she adds it’s a much bigger problem than most people realize.

“I definitely can say there is much more poverty and struggling not only in Eau Claire but all around than people know. Eau Claire is very good at hiding our poverty population because we have a lot of services and we get people help as soon as possible,” Claesges explains.

Luckily Claesges says Eau Claire is filled with teachers and organizations that care, but teachers tell us in the face of ever increasing poverty they're not sure what more than can do.

“Something positive has to happen in this economy for our children and for our struggling families, if it continues to get worse I don't know how much more we can do to help.

Eau Claire County is just one of 42 Wisconsin counties that experienced a significant increase in children living in poverty.

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  • by anonymous Location: Eau Claire on Dec 5, 2011 at 05:06 AM
    Our school district has plenty of administrators making well over $70k a year, maybe the red kettles should be placed outside their building?
  • by Anonymous on Dec 4, 2011 at 07:54 PM
    I am also fed up...I work hard for the kids I work with everyday and am sick and tired of people telling me I don't care about kids! Maybe those who have so much dang wisdom can come up with a grand plan to put sock on kids feet because I can't afford to put socks on 14% of the kids in the district
  • by Big ERN on Dec 4, 2011 at 07:06 PM
    The reason is that all the people in federal and state levels goverments will not work together. We have starving kids and reading people saying what about me how will this affect me is just disgraceful. Greed and evil has ruined alot of people so if this alarming story doesn't strike a cord in you, have bigger issues to deal with.It's pretty hard to feed a family of 3-4 on no wages at all the kids don't get a choice when they are born into some of these terrible spots and have to live the hard life. We can all give in different ways so stat putting $$$ in the red kettles, or donate food to pantries.
  • by D on Dec 4, 2011 at 06:39 PM
  • by anonymous Location: Eau Claire on Dec 4, 2011 at 09:21 AM
    I don't see this as a big shocker because of how Eau Claire is setup. You've got a group of wealthy folks, then a group of union folks who are doing okay and then you have the majority that can't make ends meet because of the lousy wages and when say something you're told stop whining. Several years ago, Eau Claire decided not to play nice with upstart businesses so they all went over to Dunn County-go look at their industrial park sometime.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Dec 5, 2011 at 05:21 AM in reply to anonymous
      Here Here
  • by Elijah on Dec 4, 2011 at 05:36 AM
    To Laura, Don't get your nose bent out of joint. Take the help if you can get it. When it runs out, we can all be in the same boat. I don't care what you make or what you take. I was just saying that my children have decided to wait until they can pay for it themselves. I think you are the one on the high horse. You seem to have the anger issues.
    • reply
      by Laura B. on Dec 5, 2011 at 05:09 AM in reply to Elijah
      My kids are grown, with kids of their own.Elijah, your kids are not the issue here, in fact, the issue here is a whole group of people trying to make ends meet and the ones that put them down for living!Your kids can pay for a baby one year, and there is no gaurentee that five years down the road a job might not be lost, or a health issue come up, or any of other number of things might put them in a lower income bracket.That is what I am trying to get across, you don't PLAN emergency situations like that, they just happen.
  • by Illegal immigration and poverty on Dec 3, 2011 at 11:41 PM
    Democrats are fond of protecting illegal immigrants through sanctuary cites and fighting for illegal immigration amnesty. A great majority of those illegals are counted as living in poverty which artificially inflates the numbers. Those same illegal immigrants also drive down wages in the private sector which legitimately inflates the numbers. When contractors can hire illegal carpenters, roofers, landscapers, masons, and concrete workers for minimum wage or less, why would they pay a living wage to one of us? Eau Claire has remained pretty isolated from this problem, but that won't last forever.
    • reply
      by Rummie on Dec 5, 2011 at 02:53 AM in reply to Illegal immigration and poverty
      And how is it not the Republicans as well? Ills drive down wages, true, yet don't you think the bigshots who support the Reps also like that effect? Both parties have allowed this for decades, add that with the global competition and the jobs our rich people sent thier, then we have a tragedy of epic poportion for the middle classes. Ever stop to wonder just how the Pacific basin got so powerful, China? they used to be a backwards nation, that was untill your boss and all his ruch buddies set them up for thier own good, now look at us. The illegals are just part of the picture, its an evil tangled web of lies, greed, and deciet!
  • by Joe Location: EC on Dec 3, 2011 at 10:26 PM
    Why not have more if your already on badger care...let everyone else pay for ur kids and then parents have health insurance and work for cash
  • by Spot on Dec 2, 2011 at 10:01 PM
    I love the "they're lazy or irresponsible parent" argument. Like yeah, because when you can afford a child and are responsible, you'll always be able to afford a child, right? You become completely immune unexpected medical bills, being laid off, disability, etc. That was sarcasm, of course. Are there people that abuse the system, absolutely. Implying they all do, or that even most do, is wrong, and you ought to be ashamed for "fighting" against helping people who really need it, and most likely have paid quite a bit into it themselves. The "handout" many of these people get were paid by in part by themselves.
    • reply
      by me on Dec 4, 2011 at 08:06 PM in reply to Spot
      if there was a "like" button, I'd hit it
  • by Anonymous on Dec 2, 2011 at 10:30 AM
    This is why me and my husband are choosing not to have another child at this time. We would LOVE to, but we're not going to burden others with our responsibility. If only others would do the same...
    • reply
      by smart on Dec 2, 2011 at 04:34 PM in reply to
      You are a very responsible parent, and I applaud you. Children are expensive! We all must live within our means, and by sacrificing our own family, we are helping society. I am proud of you!
    • reply
      by Elijah on Dec 2, 2011 at 05:43 PM in reply to
      That is very wise of you. My son and his wife and my daughter and her husband are in the same situation. They have no insurance, so they will be waiting to have children.They don't blame anyone for this and they don't expect anyone else to be responsible for them. They all have moved out of state for better jobs. We don't blame Scott Walker. We hope that he can get spending under control. There is way too much welfare in this state. I see how people abuse the system.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Dec 3, 2011 at 08:06 AM in reply to Elijah
        At least there are still some of us smart ones left! It really sucks, because we did everything right, except we are self-employed (farmers) so health insurance is absolutely insane. It feels like we are being punished for doing things right, while others continue to have children and rely on the government to take care of them!
    • reply
      by Laura B. on Dec 3, 2011 at 04:42 AM in reply to
      People who work lower paying jobs are many times in the "poverty level" areas for programs. It doesn't mean they don't work, pay taxes, and it doesn't mean they are lesser than those who get higher wages.People tend to look down on low income workers, and many don't even know the requirements or income limits for the programs they are complaining about, they just think because it is there it is bad and a drain on them.Good, you chose not to have a child,so what.There are people who have lost their jobs and taken jobs that pay less to get by, that doesn't mean they PLANNED it.
      • reply
        by Elijah on Dec 3, 2011 at 11:55 AM in reply to Laura B.
        I just said I do see a lot of abuse in some of the programs. Like people trying to sell food stamps etc. If you feel like you need help, go ahead and take it. I was agreeing with the person who said they would wait. My son has been working 2 jobs. He and my daughter don't feel it is someone else's responsibility to pay for their children. If you have a problem with that, so be it.
        • reply
          by Laura B. on Dec 3, 2011 at 03:47 PM in reply to Elijah
          Elijah, what I have a "problem" with is this whole pretended idea that if a family gets any kind of help that they are not working or paying for anything THEMSELVES.If you see abuse then REPORT it, other than that, you don't know BEANS about anyone elses income, or bills, or wheather or not they work and for how much an hour, so get off that high horse before you fall off.
        • reply
          by @Laura B on Dec 4, 2011 at 07:06 AM in reply to Elijah
          Nicely done.
      • reply
        by me on Dec 4, 2011 at 08:05 PM in reply to Laura B.
        THANK YOU LAURA! I am a college graduate, my husband and I both work full-time, and we work our butts off! We have both had to take lower paying jobs in the last few years due to the economy and my husbands does not offer any health insurance, and mine is not a possibility. Our kids are on medical assistance and we really don't like it, but what choices do we have at this point? None. Those of you who are high on your horse may think there are all kids of options, but feel free to live a day in my life. the anwsers may seem easy but you have no idea, and by the way, I also work for a school district and at the end of the month I have to forefit my ENTIRE paycheck and pay an additional $200 to get insurance. But I know, I am just lazy....
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