Poverty Simulations

Prior to the COVID -19 Pandemic, in 2018 24% of Walworth County residence live at the ALICE rates every day according to the 2020 ALICE data (https://www.unitedforalice.org/county-profiles/wisconsin). ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed — households that earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, but less than the basic cost of living for the county. 9% of Walworth County residence live in poverty.  In the 2021 Community Health Survey by Walworth County Health and Human Services, 22% of respondents say their financial situation has declined since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.  As data that is more recent becomes available, it will be interesting to see the effects of COVID–19 on these statistics.

A breakdown of the 2018 labor force in the 2020 ALICE data shows a small portion of Walworth county adults (16 years and older) who are unemployed (2.5%) and a large number who are working (64.4%). However, significant portions of full- and part-time workers are paid by the hour; these workers are more likely to have fluctuations in income and less likely to receive benefits.  If you are curious about the effect of COVID-19 on ALICE families, visit https://unitedforalice.org/COVID19.

It is difficult for those of us who have enough to truly understand the situations that families living in poverty experience every day – the decisions they have to make, and the fears and frustrations they feel. That is why we are inviting you to walk a mile in the shoes of those facing poverty by participating in a Poverty Simulation.

A Poverty Simulation provides participants with the opportunity to assume the role of a low-income family member living on a limited budget. The experience is divided into four 15-minute sessions, each of which represents one week in which you must provide for your family and maintain your home. As one participant commented, “This poverty simulation dramatically demonstrates how much time and energy many families have to give just to survive from day to day. It quickly dispels the myth “that people would do fine if they would only go out and get a job!”

This event is appropriate for community organizations that serve low-income families, faith based organizations, volunteers at food distribution sites, school administrators and educators, business owners and economic development specialists, elected officials, high school and college students, social workers, concerned citizens and anyone who would like to learn more about their community and find ways to improve life for others.

No programs are scheduled at this time.  Questions or to scheduled a simulation, please contact amanda.kostman@wisc.edu or please call the Walworth County Extension office at 262-741-4961.

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