Alabama among 11 states where child poverty rate remains unchanged

The concentrated poverty rate hasn't changed in the last 10 years.

Posted: Sep 24, 2019 5:45 PM
Updated: Sep 24, 2019 10:44 PM

Despite an explosion in economic growth in Alabama, kids are still living in poverty and the number hasn't changed in a decade.

That's the result of a report out on Tuesday. WAAY 31 found out why.

"Christmas Charities Year Round" meets the urgent needs of low-income families in Huntsville. People in the community say poverty isn't a problem that can be solved in one conversation. They say it's a slow-moving train that will require a lot of people working together.

"The more we can provide the total gambit of services for a child, the much better off they're going to be, as well as their parents," said Kristin Hays, the executive director of Christmas Charities Year Round.

Her team has something called a charity tracker where they work with several agencies to help low-income families. She finds it upsetting that the number of Alabama kids living in concentrated poverty hasn't changed in a decade, but it's fuel to work harder.

"We're stronger together, and that's what this community is committed to doing," she said.

The report out Tuesday from The Casey Foundation found Alabama is one of 11 states with an unchanged rate in the last decade. 

The U.S. Census Bureau defines poverty as a family of four making slightly less than $25,000. Concentrated poverty is a neighborhood where 30% of residents live in poverty. 

In Alabama, 15% of kids live in concentrated poverty. They tend to lack access to healthy food and quality healthcare and have a higher risk of disease when they age.

Hays says she believes organizations like Christmas Charities Year Round are making a difference. They offer free healthcare for children in schools, access to meals in after-school care and provide clothing year round.

"We can do a lot of things for that child, and so the fact that we're all in a school together is really a great effort," said Hays.

Christmas Charities is connected with school districts to help kids who need emergency items. That's anything from clothing to furniture to medical equipment. Hays said if there's something they can't provide, they know who to call.

The Casey Foundation recommends state and local agencies offer more affordable housing in concentrated poverty communities. Also, they think local agencies should offer economic options to help families leave those neighborhoods or stay and make them better.

The other states that have not seen a change in the concentrated poverty level are Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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