LA CROSSE, WI (WEAU)--The economic conditions of the last few years took their toll on a lot of Wisconsin’s families. Single mother Amber Fricke says they’re a big part of what makes it tough for her and her two young boys to make ends meet.
"I haven’t worked in a year and a half," Fricke said. "It’s really hard for me to find a job, especially with two kids and trying to find childcare."
That’s why human services departments are trying to help. The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (WCCF) says La Crosse County has seen about a 40% increase in the number of children living in poverty during the last decade. It defines poverty as a family of four living on about $22,000 or less per year.
"Here in Wisconsin, we’ve seen a real increase in childhood poverty in the last decade," said WCCF Executive Director Ken Taylor. "Our rate of childhood poverty has raised 42% as a state, which is more than double the national average.”
Taylor says today’s “Wiskids Count Community Conversation” is aimed at raising awareness of the problem of childhood poverty and helping organizations work together to get more people the help they need.
"In terms of using resources more wisely, come January 1, in our juvenile detention center, we’ll have a new long-term program track that allows us to help youth in the community that we formally sent out of county at great cost," said La Crosse County Human Services Director Jason Witt.
Fricke says she’s thankful for the current county programs like food stamps. They’re helping her get by in tough economic times.
"Sometimes you gotta go and actually get on their case about giving you help because if you don’t ask for it, you’re not going to receive it," Fricke said.
She just hopes the payoff is a stable job, so her families’ next few years aren’t spent dealing with a problem that too many families in Wisconsin face right now.
Taylor says within the next two weeks, the WCCF will travel to three other cities across the state. Then they’ll take feedback from panelists and area organizations back to Madison to present recommendations on how to combat the problem to state legislators.
You can find more information on childhood poverty in Wisconsin by visiting: datacenter.kidscount.org/WI.