Census Snapshot: Poverty Rate Of Franklin’s School-Aged Children Increases

More than 9 percent of the township’s school-aged children lived in poverty in 2015, according to statistics recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Graphic: U.S. Census Bureau.

Nearly one in every 10 township school-aged child lived in poverty in 2015, a figure that is 41 percent higher than in all of Somerset County.

In its annual Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates for 2015, released Dec. 14, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 9.4 percent of children aged 5 to 17 years in the township live below the poverty level. That’s a slight increase from the 2014 figure of 9.3 percent.

That’s stark contrast to 2009, the earliest year for which statistics are available, when the township’s school-aged child poverty rate was 6 percent. It jumped the next year to 8.3 percent, as the effects of the Great Recession were in evidence.

A dip in 2011 to 7.2 percent was followed by rates of 9.3 percent in 2012 and 9 percent in 2013, according to the Census statistics.

By contrast, the Somerset County wide rate of school-aged children living in poverty was 6.2 percent in 2015, according to the Census. The county level rate dipped to a low of 4.5 percent in 2009.

Widen that data sample to include all children in the county under the age of 18 years, and the poverty rate rises to 7 percent in 2015, according to the Census. In 2009, 5.3 percent of all Somerset County children under the age of 18 were living in poverty.

While there are social service programs available to help children living in poverty and their families, the township school district also provides assistance, said a district spokeswoman.

“Some students, whose families have experienced economic hardship, are eligible for other types of assistance, which the district facilitates,” district spokeswoman Mary Clark wrote in an email. “These programs include free and reduced meals. Our district has an on-line application form for free and reduced meals and works with the state to directly certify some students for free or reduced meals, based upon their eligibility for other types of assistance. Our Breakfast in the Classroom Program has increased the number of students who eat this important meal in school.”

“Our guidance department works to identify programs and services that offer reduced rates and/or fee waivers for services such as test prep, tutoring, college applications and national testing programs,” she wrote.

The median income in Somerset County in 2015 was $99,059, according to the Census Bureau. Median means that half of the county residents’ incomes were greater than that median, and half were less.

The Census program “provides the only up-to-date, single-year income and poverty statistics for all counties and school districts — roughly 3,140 counties and over 13,000 school districts nationally,” according to the Census web site.

The figures are “a combination of the latest data from the American Community Survey with aggregate data from federal tax records, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Supplemental Security Income, decennial censuses and the Population Estimates Program,” according to the site.


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