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Large Number of NC Children Living in Poverty

March 27, 2012

GOLDSBORO, N.C. - More than 500,000 North Carolina children are living in poverty, and more than half of them are living in extreme poverty, according to the Children's Defense Fund, as their parents struggle to overcome job loss and debt.

Patricia Colon, the president of the North Carolina Head Start Association, explains that generational poverty can be difficult to overcome.

"You hear people say 'Everybody can make it. All you have to do is pull yourself up by your bootstraps.' What if you don't have any bootstraps? What if you don't have any boots? What if your grandma never had any boots? Nobody in your family has ever had that ability to do it."

Colon also is the director for Children and Family for Wages, Inc. in Goldsboro. Her community action agency is one of dozens in the state helping families with resources and knowledge to provide a better life for their children.

Bryan Duncan, board chair for the North Carolina Community Action Association, explains why poverty in children can affect them for years to come.

"When we're hungry, that seems to dominate our thoughts and our minds. With children in that same situation, they will not be able to focus on what they need to focus on to be better prepared for tomorrow."

Duncan adds that his agency, I Care Inc. in Statesville, is finding that teenagers are struggling to find summer employment in recent years. He attributes that to many minimum-wage jobs being taken by overqualified and unemployed adults looking for ways to make ends meet. Duncan says that in many cases this situation affects families, since teenagers often help with household expenses.


Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC