• Survey Examines Recession’s Impact on Children

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    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Karla Washington worries how she will afford new school uniforms for her five-year-old daughter.

    Washington, an undergraduate student, earns less than $11,000 a year from a part-time university job.

    The salary must cover food, rent, health care, child care and the occasional splurge on a Blue’s Clues item for her only child.

    “My biggest fear is not providing my daughter with everything that she needs to be a balanced child, to be independent, to be safe, to feel like she is of value,” said Washington, 41.

    Washington’s economic woes are seen throughout Nevada, where the nation’s highest unemployment and foreclosure rates have combined to devastate families and empty neighborhoods and construction yards.

    A national study on child well-being  published yesterday found Nevada had the highest rate of children whose parents are unemployed and underemployed. The state is also home to the most children affected by foreclosures — 13 percent of all Silver State babies, toddlers and teenagers have been kicked out of their homes because of an unpaid mortgage, the study found.

    Mississippi kept its overall last place ranking in child welfare for the 10th consecutive year, according to the survey. It was closely trailed by neighboring Louisiana and Alabama, a nod to the poverty that plagues southern states. Nevada ranked 40th overall, its worst ranking in 10 years, largely because of its economic decline.

    “We are really tired of being in 50th place,” said Linda Southward, a social science research professor at Mississippi State University. She said state policy makers have closely followed the rankings and have strived to promote early education as part of its strategy to reduce overall poverty.

    Mississippi’s rankings were least affected by the recession, only because it long ago secured its worst-case standing. Overall, Mississippi ranked last in seven of the survey’s child well-being indicators.

    “We are just extremely challenged given the economic hardships that we have,” she said.

    Mississippi had the most children living in poverty, with 31 percent of its youth getting by on meager family budgets. New Hampshire had the smallest population of low-income children at 11 percent. The federal poverty level this year is $22,350 a year for a family of four, but child advocates claim that figure should be higher.

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