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July 23, 2019

Reports: NC Could Do More to Tackle Childhood Poverty

Nearly 1 million children in North Carolina live in poor or low-income homes, according to U.S. census figures. The nonprofit group NC Child has released a series of reports on the longer-term effects of poverty on children.

NC Child’s Research Director Whitney Tucker said family financial security is one of the strongest determinants of a child’s success in life. She said they examined the data for those considered “poor” and “low-income” – and there is a difference.

“It’s kids who are living in households that are under 200 percent of the federal poverty level instead of 100 percent, which is just absolute poverty,” Tucker said; “most research says that families now need an income twice the federal poverty level to actually meet their basic needs.”

The research showed children of color represent 45 percent of all North Carolina children, but 65 percent of those living in poverty. The reports recommended policy changes for better racial and economic integration, including investing more in low-performing schools and public transportation.

Tucker said areas of low economic mobility in North Carolina are also those with traditionally high African-American populations. To break the cycle of family poverty, she said it’s critical to recognize where these pockets of poverty exist, and focus resources there.

“We have really significant disparities by race and place and age. Young children are more likely to live in poverty than older children,” she said. “Also, American Indian children, Black children, Hispanic or Latino children are more likely to live in low-income families. In 2014, the 20 highest poverty rates in the state were all in rural counties.”

The reports cited a “legacy of racial discrimination in housing, education and tax policy” in the state, but said changes are possible. The reports are online at NCChild.org.

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