A recent report by West Virginia Kids Count shows that the Mountain State has made progress is certain factors of child well-being, but one area the state has not improved in in several years is the number of children living in poverty.
According the the 2017 Race for Results report, 25% of West Virginia’s children are living in poverty, and the rate is even higher for children of color.
“Over the past ten years, the percentage of children in West Virginia living in poverty has gone unchanged which is really significant. Then when you look at it from the perspective of children of color, it’s much more disproportionate in relationship to the number of folks of color that live in our state,” said Kathy Szafran, Kids Count board member and President and CEO of Crittenton Services.
The average rate of all children who live 200% above the poverty line in West Virginia is 51%. For Latino children, it is only 31%. For African American children, it is even lower at only 28%.
Szafran says living in poverty during childhood can have adverse affects for years to come.
She says it is important that we look at this data and use it to tackle the problem head on.
“Supporting them and their families as far as managing through their adversities I think is critical for the outcome for the kids. Resiliency building is also really critical for these children. The opportunity for them to have good community support and strength will help build their internal resiliency which will hopefully drive them toward a better outcome,” said Szafran.
Szafran says the well-being of our children is the responsibility of everyone, from legislators to educators to parents, and if we want to see a brighter future, we need to advocate for children now.