New Release: More than 1 in 10 Kids in North Carolina Live in Poor Neighborhoods

September 2019

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New KIDS COUNT Data Show Racial Disparities Persist;
States in the South and West Tend to Have High Rates of Children in Poverty


For immediate release Tuesday, September 24
Contact: Fawn Pattison, Communications Director 919-726-6344

RALEIGH N.C. — A long period of national economic expansion has yielded few results in reducing areas of concentrated poverty, according to “Children Living in High Poverty, Low-Opportunity Neighborhoods,” a new KIDS COUNT® data snapshot released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Using the latest data available from the U.S. Census Bureau, the snapshot examines where concentrated poverty has worsened across the country despite a long period of national economic expansion.

Over 11% of children in North Carolina live in neighborhoods with highly-concentrated poverty, a slight down-tick from the previous Census report in 2018. North Carolina is among the states that have high rates of children living in concentrated poverty, and is one of 25 states with rates of 10% and above.

Growing up in a community of concentrated poverty — that is, a neighborhood where 30% or more of the population is living in poverty — is one of the greatest risks to child development. Alarmingly, more than 260,000 North Carolina children live in these settings. That’s more than one in ten North Carolina children.

Children in high-poverty neighborhoods tend to lack access to healthy food and quality medical care and they often face greater exposure to environmental hazards, such as poor air quality, and toxicants such as lead. Financial hardships and fear of violence can cause chronic stress linked to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. And when these children grow up, they are more likely to have lower incomes than children who have relocated away from communities of concentrated poverty.

“Children are much more likely to thrive when they grow up in neighborhoods with high-quality schools, abundant job opportunities, reliable transportation, and safe places to play,” said Whitney Tucker, Research Director at NC Child. “A legacy of discriminatory practices and policies has denied these opportunities to many Black and Latinx children.”

In North Carolina Black children are six times more likely than white children to live in high-poverty, low-opportunity neighborhoods, and Latinx children are almost five times more likely. Legacies of racial and ethnic oppression as well as present-day laws and practices in health, education, employment, and housing that have a disproportionately negative effect on people of color are at the root of these disparities. Counteracting or undoing these policies could result in equality of opportunity for over 100,000 children in North Carolina.

The “Children Living in Concentrated Poverty, Low-Opportunity Neighborhoods” snapshot shows that solutions to uplift these communities are not far out of reach. There are a few policies we can enact at the county and state levels to help struggling families.

NC Child joins the Casey Foundation in calling on national, state and local stakeholders to act now to help families lift themselves out of these circumstances. Policies at the community, county and state level that can have a significant impact on the lives of children in struggling families include:

● Expanding Medicaid to remove the financial instability often caused by lack of health coverage. Over 100,000 North Carolina parents have no health coverage.
● Expanding workforce training that is targeted to high-poverty, low-opportunity communities.
● Ending discriminatory policies and practices in employment, housing, education, health care, and finance that keep individuals out of property ownership, entrepreneurship, and financial advancement.

“Strong neighborhoods foster stable, healthy families that strengthen the nation as a whole,” said Michelle Hughes, executive director of NC Child. “Systemic racism that impacts our practices and policies and disproportionately affects people of color must be uprooted if we want all our children to thrive.”

About NC Child
NC Child builds a strong North Carolina by advancing public policies to ensure all children – regardless of race, ethnicity, or place of birth – have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

About the Annie E. Casey Foundation
The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.