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Recession Likely to Leave Kids Worse Off, Casey Study Finds

Child advocates said the trend is alarming.

"Maryland is the wealthiest state in the country in terms of median household income," said Matthew Joseph, executive director of Advocates for Children and Youth, which promotes programs to help children in the state. "To see us go from bad to worse, given the wealth of the state, is of great concern."

In an ominous harbinger, states that were roiled by economic difficulties early in the decade saw the dramatic effect that a worsening economy has on children.

In Michigan, for example, the rate of children living in poverty rose by more than a third, from 14 percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2007. In Ohio, the number went up by almost a fifth in the same period, from 16 to 19 percent.

"They're like a canary in a coal mine," Beavers said. "We're likely to see this pattern repeated in many states."

The Kids Count report, which has been issued annually for 20 years, lamented the lack of consistently reliable statistics about children. The report said a "data deficit" hampers the nation's ability to create and evaluate programs aimed at children and poor families.

The information gap extends to the Census, which will be taken next year, the report said. Children and residents of low-income urban areas are chronically undercounted, according to the report's authors, and each uncounted resident means the loss over a decade of at least $12,000 in federal money for programs that help children and families.

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

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