Current: More Illinois children live in poverty

By Cynthia Bruno |

Published 05/15 2014 09:57AM

Updated 05/15 2014 10:30AM

ILLINOIS-- More Illinois children live in poverty and the organizations that help them are running out of money. 

In 2011, Coles County had almost 60% more children living in poverty than in 2006.
Champaign County had about 40% more in 2011.

Misha Jackson's children are part of those statistics.
When we met her, she was living in a hotel room with her nine children and two grandchildren. 
It's a lot people to take care of, and she says she knows people judge her family's size.

"What's your response when they say, why did you have so many kids, why are you in this situation to begin with," we asked her.
"No, I didn't expect 9, but I always said...if I got 'em, there's a reason," she answered.

While nine may seem like a big number, Jackson hopes you'll pay just as much attention to an even bigger one- 8,916.
That's how many Champaign County children were living in poverty in 2011, like her are now.

Some of those children and families get help from the Regional Office of Education. 
"We work with homeless families through Champaign-Ford Counties, so we cover the 18 school districts," says Regina Parnell, who works there.  
She's the one who helped the Jackson family get the hotel room. 
"She was removed from her home due to an agency losing the funding which was helping her with her home. They were subsidizing her rent," Parnell told us when she explained why the family was in the hotel room. 

So, when that funding ran out, the Regional Office of Education stepped in.
It paid for the Jackson's hotel room for a week. The Jackson family needed more time there, but Parnell's agency didn't have any money to pay for it. 
"We received funding through United Way to provide emergency housing for the families, and this is the first year out of four years we've received the funding that we ran out of funding in March to provide services for these families," Parnell says. 

Parnell had a big problem, but her solution was even bigger.
She started asking everyone she knew to help. They did. 
"We just had people going up to the hotel that they were in and putting money on the books. So the community really wrapped around this family to help them stay an additional seven nights in the hotel that they were staying in," she says. 

Parnell didn't have to ask others to step in, but she says she did. 
"I have a child, it was the Easter holiday, and when you think about family around Easter, you think about what you would want for yourself and your family. I just couldn't sleep knowing that this mother and her children have nowhere else to go," she says. 

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