More NC children are living in poverty than in 2008
Despite the so-called "Carolina Comeback," North Carolina's child poverty rate has increased by 25% since 2008. A huge lack of investment by state lawmakers into programs such as education, employment, and health care for children is at the root of the growing crisis. Will the politicians take any action to reverse the tide?
The number of children in North Carolina living in poverty has increased by 25 percent since 2008, according to a report to be released Tuesday, even as the nation recovered from the recession.
North Carolina ranked 35th overall in the report for child well-being. The state tied with Texas and Kentucky for the 11th highest child poverty rate in the country. The federal poverty level for a family of four is $24,250.
Laila Bell, the director of research and data for the non-profit NC Child, said that the recession was a trigger for some of the changes, but state legislation contributed to the problems.
As an example, she cited the state allowing the earned income tax credit to expire in 2014. Republican lawmakers at the time said eliminating the tax credit, along with other changes, was meant to simplify the system and to spread the tax burden equally.
Bell said North Carolina lawmakers could improve conditions for kids in the state by supporting the health of mothers before and during their pregnancies. Better healthcare, possibly through expanded access to insurance for low-income women, can help prevent low birth weight babies.
The state government could also invest more in early childhood education, a key to children’s development and future success in school, Bell said.