Study: Illinois at risk of losing a generation of kids

(KFVS) - In Illinois one in five children lives in poverty. A new report out shows how the state budget crisis is affecting those kids. Those involved with the report say if the state continues down the same path a generation of children could be lost.

Catherine Mitchell cleans up from breakfast while her kids are at school.  Mitchell lives in public housing with her fourteen age children and is raising them on her own. This mom is one of the many faces of the Illinois Kids Count report.

"I am that person that is in poverty that needs the resources, my kids need it, I need it," Mitchell said.

According to the 2012 report early childhood programs, such as Pre-K, faced budget cuts and delayed payments. That's caused thousands of children to miss out on the program. The report shows state cuts have also hit teen after school programs, mental health services and child care services.

"Those programs enrich the life of a child and increase their odds to be more successful individual as they travel through life," Jo Poshard, Director of the Poshard Foundation for Abuse Children, said.

The report also shows children and their families continue to experience effects from the recession. Poshard says they see that reality in the calls they get for help.

The number one request at our foundation is for beds. People are shocked when I tell them that and this is not for a new bed, nice mattress," Poshard said. "This is for a bed to get them off the floor."

Poshard says the state can't afford to not provide services for its next generation of leaders.

As for Mitchell, she says the social programs are pivotal when it comes to her children and a better life.

"Its kids that want do well but don't have the resources and want to go on to do good in a signal parent home," Mitchell said.

The Illinois Kids Court 2012 report did bring some good news. The state has made progress when it comes to expanding health care access to children. High school graduation rates in Marion and Carbondale are also above the state average.

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