In Tampa Bay, this is what child poverty looks like


Tampa Bay Times| July 25, 2015

by: Caitlin Johnston| Photo: Douglas R. Clifford/Times

Nearly 1 million Florida children were living in poverty in 2013.

Ashley Corbett is a single mother raising one of those kids, Jayden, 3. Soon she will have two. The 29-year-old is seven months pregnant with her second child.

When things get tight, she reaches out to social services. They helped her find two part-time jobs, one at McDonald’s, the other at a day care center.

There, she got 50 percent off. It still wasn’t enough.

The day care worker could not afford day care.

“I would take him to my mom’s because it was so expensive to take him in with me,” Corbett said. “Trying to make ends meet, it’s a struggle.”

The story of her children is the story of Florida children mired in poverty, growing up with the odds already stacked against them.

The latest study of how hard life is for the state’s children and families comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which last week released the most recent statistics available.

But that’s just data. Tampa Bay’s parents, social workers and educators fill in the rest of the picture.

They talk about children who go hungry when they can’t eat at school, who don’t visit the doctor for routine checkups, who are less likely to attend preschool or even graduate high school.

“These children, their physical needs aren’t being met, nutritional, emotional and otherwise,” said Erika Remsberg, a social worker who works with homeless students in Pasco County. “We’re dealing with parents who are really just trying to survive.”

In Florida, one in four kids lived in poverty in 2013. That year, the poverty line for a family of four was $23,550.

The 2013 data was the last year the Casey study could examine. Florida was ranked 37th in the country in overall “child well-being,” which measured indicators such as education, economics and health. The state’s ranking reflects high instances of children falling behind in school and living in single-parent families without secure employment.

The report also showed that nearly 250,000 more Florida children were living in poverty in 2013 than in 2008. That year, amid the Great Recession, 721,000 kids were impoverished in Florida.

Those numbers do not surprise social service providers working in Tampa Bay.

“We knew that the recovery wasn’t for everyone,” said Kelley Parris, executive director of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County. “There is a segment of the population that’s not recovering nearly as quickly or as prosperously as others.”

Read full story here

Read complete Annie E. Casey Kids Count Study here


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