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Lifting NC Children Out of Poverty: A Two-Prong Approach

November 12, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. - To lift children out of poverty, their parents also need a hand. A report released today underlines the importance of supporting children and their parents at the same time, instead of focusing on one group or the other, to help ensure their success.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation research highlights the fact that 50 percent of families with children are low-income. In North Carolina, Rob Thompson, spokesman for NC Child, said that's in part due to parents' inability to find affordable child care.

"If we want to tackle some of the big issues facing low-income children," he said, "our solutions have to take into account the health and well-being, and economic security, of the entire family unit."

Thompson said it also can be difficult to find child care that is flexible enough to accommodate unpredictable service-industry employment.

In addition, the report recommends paid sick leave for employees and reinstating North Carolina's state Earned Income Tax Credit, which expired this year.

Patrice Cornwell, director of strategic initiatives for the Casey Foundation, said easing the financial uncertainty experienced by young families also can create a healthier environment for children.

"So, if we can help families become more stable," she said, "it leads to lower family stress and increases the opportunity for stronger parent-child relationships."

The current state budget reduced the number of children eligible for child-care subsidies, particularly those ages 6 to 12. As a result, Thompson said, some North Carolina parents are being placed in a tough situation.

"I think we're seeing already in this state stories from families where parents are having to make this really difficult decision about, 'Do I take my job, or do I take child care?' I don't think we want to be in the business of having families make that decision," Thompson said. "And so, it's our hope that legislators can and will revisit this issue next year."

According to the report, almost one in five North Carolina parents - 18 percent - have said that child care-related issues have impacted their ability to work.

The report, "Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach," is online at AECF.org.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC