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More Kids Growing up in Poor Neighborhoods in NC

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Thursday, February 23, 2012   

RALEIGH, N.C. - The number of children living in the state's high-poverty communities is surging, according to a report released today.

The new KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that the number of children living in such North Carolina communities has increased by almost 200 percent, with more than 200,000 of the state's children living in regions where 30 percent of more of the residents have incomes below federal poverty standards.

In North Carolina, says Laila Bell, director of research and data for Action for Children NC, it's not always about the issue of unemployment. According to the data, most of the children here have working parents.

"Even for children that live in households where someone is currently working, they may be living in these communities or areas where there's this high concentration of the number of people in poverty."

The state's northeast portion has the highest concentration of children living in communities of high poverty, Bell says.

Laura Speer, the Casey Foundation's associate director of policy reform, says they know from years of research that children in these neighborhoods of poverty face challenges in almost every aspect of their lives which make it less likely they'll reach full potential as adults.

"Living in an area of concentrated poverty limits the opportunities that families have available to them in order to get a better job, in order to make sure that the health and the welfare of their children is taken care of."

The report calls for transforming disadvantaged communities and makes several recommendations which can be tailored to each area. Speer says the idea is to make those neighborhoods better places to raise children.

"We know that it's important to support the families in the communities in terms of giving them access to financial coaching, as well as helping them with gaining employment skills."

Projects showcased as success stories include involving institutions based near high-poverty zones through revitalization and education initiatives.

Speer says the data also highlights the children most likely to live in high-poverty communities.

"For children of color in the United States, they're much more likely to have poverty within their households be compounded by also living in a high-poverty neighborhood and all the things that that means."

African-American, American Indian and Latino children are six to nine times more likely to live in high-poverty communities than are their white counterparts, the report says. Regardless of race or ethnicity, it finds that children in the South and Southwest also are more likely to live in areas of concentrated poverty.

The full report is online at AECF.org.


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