NC children continue to suffer from the recession

Thursday, December 13th, 2012 | Author: Tracy

(Action for Children)–The recession continues to take a heavy toll on children and families in North Carolina as current economic conditions are expected to remain similar to those of a year ago–and much worse than they were in 2007, according to a new national report.

The Recession’s Ongoing Impact on Children, 2012: Indicators of Children’s Economic Well-Being, commissioned by the bipartisan national child advocacy group First Focus, uses unemployment, nutrition assistance, and lagged poverty data to forecast child poverty rates in 2012. The report predicts the national child poverty rate will likely remain high at 22.5 percent, more than one in every five children in the country. In North Carolina, the child poverty rate is expected to remain among the highest in the country at 26 percent.

“This report shows that North Carolina’s children continue to suffer from the recession, and sustained investments are needed to help reduce the negative impacts of a challenging economy on our children and families,” said Deborah Bryan, president and CEO of Action for Children North Carolina, a leading statewide child advocacy group. “Investments like tax credits for working families, Medicaid and other public health insurance programs for children are essential to help protect the well-being of our children and youth in times of need.”

The report also examines the number of food aid recipients and parental employment. In North Carolina:

  • An estimated 1 in 10 children lived with an unemployed parent in 2012, more than twice the rate at the start of the recession (four percent in 2007).
  • An estimated 118,000 children lived with parents who were unemployed for six months or more in 2012, up from 23,000 in 2007.
  • The number of SNAP recipients nearly doubled in 2012 (1,157–a 90 percent increase since 2007).

A child’s current and future health and well-being is shaped by his or her economic security early in life. Bouts of parental unemployment and poverty can create both immediate and long-lasting damages that can harm a child’s growth and development. Near-term effects include psychological stress and poorer academic performance, and even increased incidences of abuse and neglect. Lasting consequences include diminished career aspirations and earnings as an adult.

To read The Recession’s Ongoing Impact on Children, 2012: Indicators of Children’s Economic Well-Being, visit:

First Focus has developed and commissioned a series of reports, policy analyses, and other materials examining the recession’s consequences for America’s children. Those resources are available at

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Child Poverty and Its Lasting Impact

Friday, September 21st, 2012 | Author: Tracy

A new paper by The Urban Institute examines four critical questions related to the lasting impact of child poverty.

  • What share of newborns is poor, and how often do these children remain poor?
  • What family characteristics relate most strongly to childhood poverty persistence?
  • What are the implications of present-day childhood poverty for adult outcomes?
  • How do other family characteristics and childhood experiences relate to adult outcomes?

Among the findings:

  • Over the past four decades, 16 percent of children were born to poor parents.
    • Minority children are less economically secure than white children; 40 percent of black newborns are poor, compared with 10 percent of white newborns.
    • Over the past four decades, nearly half (49 percent) of children born to poor parents were poor for at least half their childhoods, and there has been little improvement over time.
  • Black children are worse off, and the magnitude of their disadvantage has persisted over time.
  • Roughly one in every three poor white newborns is persistently poor, while two in every three poor black newborns are persistently poor.
  • Beyond poverty status at birth, parents’ educational attainment at the time of the child’s birth is a key factor related to childhood poverty persistence for both white and black children. Family employment status at the child’s birth also plays a role for black children.
  • Compared with people never poor as a child, those poor for half their childhoods are nearly 90 percent more likely to enter their 20s without completing high school and are four times more likely to have a teen premarital birth (controlling for race, parents’ education at birth, family characteristics, and other factors).
  • Children who are poor early in life—birth to age 2—are 30 percent less likely to complete high school than children who are first poor later in childhood (controlling for poverty duration and other factors). Timing of poverty is not related to teen premarital childbearing.
  • Children in families that move for negative reasons (e.g., housing unit coming down, being evicted, parents divorcing, saving money) are less likely to complete high school by age 20 than children that do not move or that move for neutral or positive reasons.


In the conclusion, the Institute notes:

Targeting vulnerable children at birth is vital, as children’s environment in the first years of life has been found to affect brain development, and poverty early in life is linked with lower educational achievement. For the current generation, the majority of whom are born in hospitals, children born to poor parents, particularly those with low-educated parents, should be connected with program services to help them avoid the poverty trap. home-visiting, parenting, and relationship counseling programs targeted at these families can help children by improving family functioning and the home environment. Also, opportunities arising from health reform should be used to connect new mothers, many of whom suffer from depression (vericker et al. 2010), with health insurance, so they can get help with both physical and emotional needs. If family stress filters down to children, these steps can improve longer term outcomes for these vulnerable children.


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Large Number of NC Children Living in Poverty

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 | Author: Tracy

(03/27/12) 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.

Click here to view this story on the Public News Service RSS site and access an audio version of this and other stories:

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NC Justice Center Releases New Brief on Concentrated Poverty

Friday, March 16th, 2012 | Author: Patti Mulligan

Today the Budget and Tax Center released a brief, “Barriers to Opportunity: The Growing Problem of Concentrated Poverty in North Carolina’s Neighborhoods”, that takes a look at the impact of high-poverty neighborhoods on the well-being of its inhabitants. Using a measure called “concentrated poverty”, which captures neighborhoods that have poverty rates of 40 percent or more, the brief finds that there was a dramatic rise in the number of North Carolinians living in concentrated-poverty neighborhoods from 2000 to 2006-2010.

Key findings from the brief include:

  • In 2006-2010, 143,445 North Carolinians who were poor lived in concentrated poverty, and the state’s concentrated poverty rate stood at 10.2 percent.
  • From 2000 to 2006-2010 the number of concentrated-poverty neighborhoods in the state nearly tripled, and the number of people living in these neighborhoods who were poor more than tripled.
  • African Americans and Latinos living in North Carolina who were poor were more likely to live in concentrated poverty in 2006-2010, compared to their white counterparts. Children who were poor were more likely to live in concentrated poverty than the average North Carolinian who was poor.

Related Publications

If you want to read more about poverty in North Carolina, check out these publications and resources:

The Budget and Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center, seeks to create economic opportunity and shared prosperity for all North Carolinians through non-partisan research, education and advocacy on budget, tax and economic issues. Visit them at

How Poverty & Third Grade Reading Skills Influence High School Graduation

Thursday, March 15th, 2012 | Author: Tracy

A study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation  finds that students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave without a diploma than proficient readers.

The report–Double Jeopardy: How Poverty & Third Grade Reading Skills Influence High School Graduation–for the first time breaks down the likelihood of graduation by different reading skill levels and poverty experiences.

 Among the findings, poor children who struggle with reading in third grade have better outcomes if they don’t live in high-poverty neighborhoods. Roughly 80% who live in affluent areas and 77% who live in middle class communities finish high school by age 19.

Read the report.

Read “Eye on Early Education” blog post.

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Smart investments can help reduce poverty among children

Tuesday, November 08th, 2011 | Author: Tracy

(Action for Children) A new report released by the U.S. Census Bureau Monday suggests more Americans are living in poverty than previously thought. The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), finds 49.1 million Americans (16%) now live in poverty, a slight increase from the 46.6 million (15%) thought to be poor under the traditional measure of poverty.  

While the overall number of Americans living in poverty increases under the SPM, the number of children living in poverty actually drops from 16.8 million children (22.5%) to 13.6 million (18.2%) under the new measure.  This decline is due to differences in how the SPM calculates poverty.

While the traditional poverty measure examines only gross income, the SPM compares the bills families must pay, food, clothing, shelter and utilities, and the resources they have available to pay them.  The SPM excludes expenses that reduce resources, such as payroll taxes, transportation costs or medical expenses, and adjusts for differences in housing status and cost of living by geography.

The result is a more sophisticated picture of what it takes to make ends meet in America, and the resources available to help vulnerable children and families do just that. In 2010, the official poverty threshold for two adults and 2 children was $22,113, the supplemental threshold was $24,343.

These figures highlight the importance of anti-poverty programs in alleviating economic hardship among children.  According to SPM analysis, the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable federal income tax credit for low- and moderate- income working individuals, helps to reduce child poverty by 4.2 percentage points. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps low income families meet their food costs, improves the child poverty rate by 3 percentage points.  

Barb Bradley, President & CEO of Action for Children North Carolina, a statewide policy and advocacy organization dedicated to improving outcomes for children in North Carolina offered the following statement in response to the new poverty figures:

“While far too many children are considered poor, even under these new estimates, these data show what many advocates have been saying all along: smart investments can help reduce poverty among children. These findings are significant for a number of reasons. Research indicates that poverty is the single greatest threat to the well-being of children. The experience of poverty during childhood, particularly during the critical period between birth and age five, has been associated with poorer academic performance, reduced health and lower earnings potential later in life. 

While these estimates show the social safety net helps to lift many children out of poverty, they also indicate that child poverty is on the rise.  In 2009, the SPM estimated 17.3% of American children lived in poverty.  Last year, that percentage grew to 18.2%.

“Reducing poverty is good policy. Not only does it improve the health and well-being of our children in the short run, it bolsters the economic strength of our country in the long-run by helping us to create the healthy, well-educated workforce we need to keep the economy moving and to drive innovation.”

The supplemental poverty measure does not replace the official poverty measure, and will not be used to determine program eligibility or resource allocation.  Instead, the SPM helps improve existing knowledge by quantifying the impact of social safety net programs in reducing economic hardship for vulnerable children and families.

The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2010 is available online at

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NYT’s Kristoff Says “Occupy the Classroom”

Thursday, October 20th, 2011 | Author: Tracy

In yesterday’s New York Times, Nicholas Kristoff proposes that Occupy Wall Street needs to evolve to Occupy the Classroom. He writes:

Most of the proposed remedies involve changes in taxes and regulations, and they would help. But the single step that would do the most to reduce inequality has nothing to do with finance at all. It’s an expansion of early childhood education.

He quotes Kathleen McCartney, the dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education who says, “This is where inequality starts.”

He quotes Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman who says, “Schooling after the second grade plays only a minor role in creating or reducing gaps.”

He concludes, “the question isn’t whether we can afford early childhood education, but whether we can afford not to provide it. We can pay for prisons or we can pay, less, for early childhood education to help build a fairer and more equitable nation.”

Economists, the Federal Reserve Chairman, military leaders, law enforcement, business leaders, and many others are recognizing that early childhood education is paramount to our country’s future. Yet many states have cut back on these investments, a move that will surely cost us more later.

UPDATE: Tim Bartik, economist and author of Investing in Kids, delves into the question, “How much can early childhood education do to reduce income inequality?” Read his blog post and find out the answer!

Read “Occupy the Classroom.”

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Report Finds Hunger Cost NC More Than $5.4 Billion in 2010

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 | Author: Tracy

Hunger cost North Carolina more than $5.4 billion in lost productivity and reduced outcomes last year, according to a recent report from the Center for American Progress. These findings come on the heels of alarming Census data which show unemployment in North Carolina stalled above 10 percent for the second consecutive year and poverty is increasing across the state.

In 2010, 15.7 percent of North Carolina households — nearly one in six — went hungry or faced food insecurity at some point during the year. When considered in relation to the total population, the direct and indirect costs of hunger averaged $570 per North Carolina resident — about $1,452 per household.

North Carolina was one of just 12 states in which the estimated cost of hunger has increased by more than $1 billion since the start of the recession.

“These estimates are a gripping reminder that the social and economic implications of family economic security are far-reaching,” said Barb Bradley, President and CEO of Action for Children North Carolina, a statewide policy research and advocacy organization that tracks child well-being in North Carolina. “When families struggle to put food on the table, the effects ripple through the state economy, creating greater health costs, educational problems and reduced opportunities for our children.”

Research shows that children are disproportionately impacted by the experience of food insecurity — an effect which persists well into their adult years. Children who grow up in food insecure households are more likely to go without health care, have increased school absenteeism and face greater risk of early academic failure, including dropping out of school, than their food-secure peers. As those children age and transition into the workforce, they encounter diminished outcomes in the form of limited employability and lower lifetime earnings.

Nationally, hunger-induced losses in educational outcomes, earnings and health cost the country an estimated $167.5 billion last year, an increase of 33.5 percent since 2007.

The report notes that expansions to a key federal nutrition assistance program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-formerly food stamps), helped many families meet some of their household food needs. In North Carolina, one in five residents, more than 1.9 million people, received SNAP benefits in 2010. Forty percent of them were children under the age of 18. Bradley says in these tough economic times, SNAP plays a pivotal role in helping to preserve the fiscal health of our state economy.

“Every dollar of SNAP benefit generates $1.84 in economic activity,” said Bradley. “This means federal efforts to support families in tough times are not just good for individuals, they are critical for the state, keeping hunger-associated costs down, children in school and our workforce ready to drive the new economy. ”

Read Hunger in America: Suffering We All Pay For.

Thanks to Action for Children for sharing this press release.

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40% of Children Live in Working Poor Families

Friday, September 30th, 2011 | Author: Tracy

 A new report, Living on the Edge: America’s Low-Earning Families,  finds that 40 percent of all children – 30 million kids – grow up in households in which their parents are employed, yet the family still struggles with making ends meet.

The report concludes by answering the question, “What should be taken from this unfolding story about America’s low earning families?”

  • First, the importance of a sharper account of who the “squeezed middle? are and what has been happening to them, as part of a wider story about the state of working America today. Here the focus needs to be on how overall standards of living are changing – rather than on income alone. Those seeking to tackle child poverty need now to direct their efforts at the world of work, as well as at the world of welfare.
  • Second, that however global the changes that are affecting low paid workers, there is still a central role for government, and for social and economic policies that protect against the vagaries of such changes.
  • Finally, there is a lesson about the goal to aim for. It is easy to fall into a trap of thinking that the central question is one of deficit reduction versus growth. The focus instead needs to be on fostering a broad-based prosperity – a prosperity that will provide low- and middle-income families with the economic security that has been seized from them over the last generation and create a prosperous future for today’s children.

Download the report.

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New from ZERO TO THREE: Fact Sheet on Infants and Toddlers in Poverty

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 | Author: Tracy

One of the most consistent associations in the science of early childhood development is between economic hardship and compromised child development. We know that poverty can compromise every aspect of a child’s development, leading to short- and long-term effects on health, achievement in school, and success in life. But what do we actually mean when we talk about poverty? And what exactly are the effects of poverty on infants and toddlers? Poverty Fact Sheet: Implications for Infants and Toddlers, new from the ZERO TO THREE Policy Center, provides an overview of poverty as it pertains to the healthy development of infants and toddlers.

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