Rural Children:

Increasing Poverty Rates Pose Educational Challenges

HEHS-94-75BR: Published: Jan 11, 1994. Publicly Released: Jan 11, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed changes in demographic characteristics of rural children between 1980 and 1990, focusing on: (1) rural children in families with incomes below the poverty level; and (2) the number of counties currently eligible for Chapter 1 educational funding that will not be eligible under proposed changes to the program's eligibility criteria.

GAO found that: (1) the total number of rural children decreased 6.7 percent and the number of poor rural children increased 2.5 percent between 1980 and 1990; (2) about 80 percent of rural children were white in 1990; (3) although the percentage of white and black rural children decreased, the percentage of Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian rural children increased; (4) poor rural children accounted for 29 percent of all poor children in 1980 and 1990; (5) 40.1 percent of the poor rural children in 1990 were minorities; (6) the number of single-female-parent families grew 26 percent among poor rural children; (7) the percentage of poor rural parents with low education levels remains high; (8) poverty rates among rural children were the highest in the South and Southwest and most of the children in these states were minorities; (9) 80 percent of rural counties will lose their current eligibility under proposed changes to Chapter 1 eligibility criteria; (10) less than 1 percent of poor rural children live in counties that will lose their eligibility for basic grants and 12 percent live in counties that will lose their eligibility for concentration grants; and (11) the proposed changes to Chapter 1 eligibility criteria will effect more rural counties than urban counties.

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