More Elkhart blacks in poverty, more black families headed by single women

Black youth in Elkhart County have shown improvement in some academic indicators, but are worse off in economic and other categories, according to a new report by Indiana Black Expo.
Posted on Dec. 5, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Dec. 5, 2012 at 5:29 a.m.

ELKHART — More African American youth in Elkhart County are mired in poverty, more are out of work and more black families here are headed by single mothers.

The data, dubbed “sobering” by Tara Morris, head of the Elkhart chapter of Indiana Black Expo, comes from the State of our Black Youth Report, released Tuesday by Indiana Black Expo.

Even advances among black youth here in the academic arena generated a measured response. Yes, there has been improvement in some educational indicators, acknowledged Morris, but “not as much as we would’ve liked to have seen.”

Tuesday’s Indiana Black Expo report, a follow-up to a 2007 study, covers the state and contains specific data on 16 communities, including Elkhart. There are 16,134 people aged 19 or younger in Elkhart in all and non-Hispanic blacks accounted for about 18 percent of the total, or 2,906.

Here are some of the highlights from the report on Elkhart:

Ÿ High school: 60.3 percent of African American high school grads in 2011 had a Core 40 diploma, up from 44.7 percent in 2008. Honors diploma holders accounted for 5.1 percent of black grads in 2011, down from 9.2 percent.

Among blacks 25 and over, 81.7 percent had a high school or high school equivalency degree in 2010, up from 67.2 percent in 2000. The number of dropouts per 1,000 blacks aged 15 to 19 decreased, to 48.7 in 2011 from 132.9 in 2007.

Ÿ Third-graders: Nearly 46 percent of black third-graders passed the math portion of the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress Plus test in 2012, up from 25.1 percent in 2008. Statewide, 63.8 percent of third-graders passed the math test this year, up from 46.8 percent in 2008.

Around 58 percent of black third-graders here passed the ISTEP+ English test this year, up from 37.1 percent. Statewide, 71.1 percent of Indiana third-graders passed the English test, up from 53.7 percent.

Ÿ Crime: The number of “juvenile delinquency” case filings involving black youth aged 10 to 17 went down, to 92.5 kids per 1,000 in 2010 from 186 kids per 1,000 in 2006.

Ÿ Families: The concentration of black families headed by single mothers increased to 64.7 percent of the total in 2010, up from 57.9 percent in 2000. Overall in Elkhart, 38 percent of families were headed by single mothers in 2010.

The number of black babies born to unmarried parents accounted for 88.9 percent of the total in 2008, up from 83.8 percent in 2004.

Ÿ Economics: 69.1 percent of black kids aged 17 or younger were in poverty in 2010, up from 28.9 percent in 2000. The unemployment rate for African Americans aged 16 or older totaled 24 percent in 2010, up from 13.9 percent in 2000.

The median household income in 2010 for blacks in Elkhart totaled $23,327 compared to the overall figure in the city of $33,217. That $23,327 figure for blacks is down from $28,368 in 2000.


Morris suspects the economic downturn that hit Elkhart County hard, particularly in 2009 and 2010, factors in some of the new numbers. That doesn’t temper her response, though.

The figures are “cause for concern,” she said, and a plan to address the challenges faced by African American youth here and across Indiana, as outlined in the 236-page report, is forthcoming. Spearheaded by the statewide Indiana Black Expo group and consultants, it should be ready and in place by early 2013.

“Obviously that’s going to take a community effort,” Morris said.

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