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More money needed to combat child poverty

In Children and Family, Economy, National News, Opinion, Politics, sociology on May 19, 2015 at 11:51 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOFor many Americans, a day of suffering might include a flat tire on the way to work, the cable going out right before a favorite program, or a long line at the coffee shop. But for millions of children, suffering means doing without basic necessities like proper nutrition and even the most basic health care.

According to the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), more than 16 million children in the United States live in families with income below the poverty level of $23,550. That’s a staggering 22-percent of all the kids in the country.

Some people today believe that childhood poverty in America is something from the past. In fact, one in six children in the United States lives below the poverty line.

Some people today believe that childhood poverty in America is something from the past. In fact, one in six children in the United States lives below the poverty line.

Despite the political rhetoric, generally coming from conservatives who feel poverty is a problem of the lazy, the NCCP reports that most of the parents of these children do indeed work. But low wages and in unstable employment situations continue to restrict any sort of progress for them. Experts agree that poverty is the single greatest threat to the welfare of American children in modern society.

In addition, for those who believe that poverty is a problem mainly suffered by minorities, here are some statistics. The NCCP reports that among America’s poorest children, 4.2 million are white, 4 million are Latino, 3.6 million are African American, 400,000 are Asian, and 200,000 are American Indian. That’s right; the majority of American kids living in poverty are white. But, clearly, the numbers are fairly close, so it’s certainly clear that poverty doesn’t seem to discriminate.

Red Nose DayMost of what’s needed to help this problem involves, as always, more money. There just isn’t enough funding through government social service programs to provide the needed services to support poverty-stricken children and younger adults. The National Broadcasting Company (NBC), along with charity partners such as Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Feeding America, is sponsoring a national day of awareness and fund-raising called, “Red Nose Day,” on Thursday, May 21st.

The United Way of Orange County, California explained the event on their website, “The campaign encourages everyone from children to corporations to do something fun in the name of raising awareness around a serious global issue, while also raising funds to help identify and deliver solutions. Red Nose Day USA activities culminate in a 3-hour telethon airing on NBC Saturday May 21 at 8pm.”

In addition to events like Red Nose Day, people are encouraged to help out in whatever capacity available to them, and it’s not just about writing a check. Those interested in volunteering can check with their local chapter of The United Way or other social service organizations to find out more.

Living in the richest, most powerful country in the world should inherently provide some kind of security for a child, at the very least with regard to food and shelter. Without proper living conditions, a child will simply not be able to learn well and that makes school less of a priority than eventually helping the family to support itself.

Children who can’t learn or leave school will only continue the cycle of poverty in many instances, forever locking themselves into the lowest paying work, when employment is even available.

So the question begs to be asked, “Can’t the government do more?” Yes, it can. But it hasn’t, and it probably won’t. Annually, only a pittance of tax dollars is allocated towards this problem and local social service programs are continually scaled back because of lack of funding.

Even the great Affordable Healthcare Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), which was supposed to provide health insurance for America’s poorest citizens, has made no significant difference. Because of its incredibly complicated application procedures, among other reasons, the program has thoroughly failed to meet healthcare needs of these children and their families.

Even if someone only has a little more, there is always a way to help those with far less. Red Nose Day is a fun start, but there needs to be more done to help those living in poverty. Congress (liberal and conservative alike) and the president share the blame for this tragic disfigurement of American culture. It’d be interesting to see how they would handle living without the six-figure salaries and free insurance.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com

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