RALEIGH, N.C. – The number of North Carolina children living in areas of concentrated poverty has fallen by 11%, according to a new report by The Annie E. Casey Foundation.
But Whitney Tucker, research director for the organization NC Child, says while the numbers show an improvement, North Carolina still ranks among the 25 states nationwide with childhood concentrated poverty rates above 10%.
“This is incredibly high, and I think it’s a figure that we can’t get used to seeing and start patting ourselves on the back for progress on, when we’re still doing so much worse than three quarters of the country,” Tucker states.
Currently, more than 260,000 North Carolina children live in areas of concentrated poverty.
Tucker maintains the state should be working to expand Medicaid. She says that when parents have health coverage, they are less likely to be saddled with medical debt.
“Medicaid has lots of benefits that have been shown to particularly remove financial instability for a lot of families that’s caused by a lack of health care coverage,” she stresses. “So right now, we have more than 100,000 parents in North Carolina who have no health coverage.”
Scot Spencer, The Casey Foundation’s associate state director of advocacy, says despite the relatively good economy, the rising cost of housing, food and other basic necessities leave many families struggling.
“There may be housing instability where kids may have to move from house to house because the parents or the adults in their lives are forced to make choices between whether they’re going to pay rent or pay for heat; or whether they have dinner on the table at night, or whether they get their medicine that they need,” he points out.
According to the report, more than 8.5 million children in the U.S. live in areas of concentrated poverty.