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Community Members Participate in Live-Action Poverty Simulation

LITCHFIELD Ill. – Over forty community members throughout Montgomery County, participated in a poverty simulation offered by University of Illinois Extension at Lincoln Land Community College in Litchfield, on Saturday, November 9. The program entitled “Community Action Poverty Simulation” (CAPS) promotes a greater understanding of poverty through a live-action simulation.

During the poverty simulation, participants role-played the lives of low-income families. It included single parents trying to care for their children to senior citizens trying to maintain their self-sufficiency on Social Security. Poverty is a reality for many individuals and families. However, unless a person has experienced poverty, it is difficult to understand what these individuals must go through. Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) bridges the gap from misconception to understanding. CAPS is an interactive immersion experience. It sensitizes community participants to the realities of poverty. CAPS is not a game. It is based on real Community Action clients and their lives.

During the simulation, participants reenacted living a month in poverty and experienced a low-income families' life. After the simulation, participants discussed what they experienced and brainstormed ideas for community change.

Poverty in Montgomery County:

  • Poverty Rate, 2016: 16%
  • Number of People in Poverty, 2016: 4,420
  • Child Poverty Rate, 2016: 22.7%,
  • Median Household Income, 2016: $46,997.00
  • Annual Income for One Parent Family with a Young Child and Child, 2016: $56,731.00.
  • Average Amount Poor Families’ Income Falls Below the Poverty Line (i.e. mean income deficit), 2012-2016: $9,930.00.


For more information about hosting a poverty simulation in your community, please contact Valerie Belusko, University of Illinois Extension Community & Economic Development Program Coordinator, 217-532-3941 or by email


A poverty simulation participant visits the general employer who helped with job applications, assigned jobs, and distributed wages.