Poverty and America's Children

More and more children are being directly affected by the economic downturn and foreclosure crisis. Recently, Scott Pelley reported for CBS News' 60 Minutes, that a record number of middle class families are experiencing homelessness and hunger for the first time.

The National Center for Children in Poverty estimates "nearly 15 million children in the United States -- 21 percent of all children -- live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level -- $22,050 a year for a family of four." Unfortunately, "the poverty rate for kids in this country will soon hit 25 percent, the largest American generation to be raised in hard times since the Great Depression," explains Pelley.

In Seminole County in Florida, Beth Davalos who runs programs for homeless kids, tells Pelley,

"Our numbers go up every day. Between five and 15 new homeless students a day. When I first started this program eight years ago, homelessness lasted maybe two, three months. But now with it lasting three, six months, a year or two years, this is when children are developing who they are and their foundations is broken."

When asked about how the homeless students were doing in Seminole County, Davalos says,

"They're struggling, it's much harder. They're more at risk for not doing well. They're focusing on 'How can I help mom and dad?' We have so many students that want to quit school and go to work."

According to the American Psychological Association, poverty can directly influence a child's academic achievement, psychosocial outcome, and physical health. Take, for instance, the disturbing fact that children who come from low-income families have a dropout rate that is 10 times the rate of kids who come from high-income families.

Children from low-income families are more likely to face poor nutrition, health conditions like asthma and anemia and a greater exposure to risky behaviors like smoking and sex at an early age (not to mention a higher propensity for engaging in said behaviors).

Unfortunately, millions of American children will continue to face these challenges, but there's something you can do to get involved. Here's Life Inner City, a ministry within Campus Crusade for Christ, currently trains and equips churches in 17 cities. Here's Life works to meet immediate physical needs, while also providing long-term development programs such as Holistic Hardware for life skills and WorkNet for career preparedness.

Currently, you can help provide children in need with Easter Bags. An Easter Bag is a bag filled with candy, goodies and the gospel message. Many times, these effective tools serve as a touch point and connection between children and families in need and restorative trainings and programs. Find out more about Here's Life Inner City.

This piece was written by Jenny Won, an intern for Here's Life Inner City.