It is good news that the House Select Committee on Early Education Improvement is reconsidering recommendations regarding N.C. Pre-K. The incredibly horrific news? At least one lawmaker believes there is no extreme poverty in North Carolina.
In Action for Children North Carolina's recent report, Children in the Recession: Exploring the Impact of the Great Recession on N.C. Children and Youth (available at ncchild.org), the data are clear: Between 2007 and 2009, the number of children in N.C. living in extreme poverty increased 25 percent. One in 10 North Carolina children now lives in a household surviving on an annual income of $11,000 for a family of four.
The percentage of N.C. children living in regular poverty (household income less than $22,050 for a family of four) increased to 22.5 percent. In three counties, more than 50 percent of children are living in areas of concentrated poverty (more than 30 percent of residents are living in poverty).
The issue of poverty (and extreme poverty) is not intractable. There are public policies that can help. However, trusting legislators to invest in what works may be too much to expect when they do not understand the realities facing our families every day.
President & CEO, Action for Children North Carolina, Raleigh