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High poverty rate placing demands on Social Services

An estimated 17.7 percent of children in Mathews County are living in poverty, and the high percentage is taking its toll on those providing vital services to families in need.

“There has been a huge increase in services and child abuse complaints,” said Mathews County Social Services Director Jo Ann Harfst.

Harfst presented the latest statistics at the April 22 meeting of the Mathews County Board of Supervisors. While the 17.7 percent rate is lower than the Eastern region rate of 19.5 percent, it is higher than the statewide rate of 15.5 percent.

A chart she shared with supervisors shows that poverty rates for children between 2002 and 2008 in Mathews ranged from 12 to 14.2 percent, with an average of 13.13 percent. In 2009, the rate went up to 15.8 percent, and it was uniformly higher the following three years: 17.1 percent in 2010, 18.1 in 2011, and 17.7 in 2012.

Poverty rates among all ages were up, as well, but not nearly as much as among children alone. In 2012, t...

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