How Can We Inform More People on Child Poverty in Oregon? (by Scott Woods)

From: Scott A. Woods

To: Op-ed, The Oregonian

1320 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201

commentary@oregonian.com

With the holidays rapidly approaching, people’s thoughts are turning to that of family and friends.  For most people it is a time of thankfulness, giving and joy.  But for so many of the children of poverty living in the State of Oregon and the City of Portland it is a time of hopelessness and despair.  With the downturn in the economy and the lack of employment in the state many of these children and their families are victims of circumstances out of their control.

The sheer numbers of children that are at poverty level is staggering and amazing.  What is even more surprising is that these numbers are not in a third world country, they are here in the United States, the richest country in the world and here locally in the State of Oregon.  Even with the economy in a supposed ‘recovery’ the amount of children of poverty is still increasing and we as residence, neighbors, and sometimes family need to take immediate action to help those in need.

More often than not these children do not have the means to have something as simple but important as a school lunch.  Granted there are state funded programs that are in place to help those in need, they often go unutilized.  Some of the biggest challenges that our local schools are seeing is that people who are newly “poor” are often hesitant to ask for help.  For many it is the first time they have been in this situation and are often unsure of how to get help or are just uncomfortable asking for help.

The majority of the children of poverty in the State of Oregon are with children under six.  This is known to be the age of “greatest brain development”.  The lack of proper nutrition, shelter, and education hamper these children’s ability to become capable adults.  Some schools locally have started providing breakfast and snacks to children in need above and beyond what the state funded programs offer.  But this is not enough.  More needs to be done to help these children and their families.

We need to take the time to educate ourselves on this increasing epidemic and see what we can do to help change it.  Whether the issue is politics, ethnicity, or geographic location there are things that can be done to help decrease the amount of children of poverty in our state.  We just have to figure out what our part is and take action.  It is a time for us, as individuals, to look outside of our box and our comfort zones and find a way to help.  No matter how small or large the gesture or action anything and everything we can do will help a child in need.

****

My Research Question is: What can be done to make people more aware and informed of child poverty in the State of Oregon?

Periodical Sources:

“Portland schools see more children slipping from middle-class to hungry” by Betsy Hammond, The Oregonian The Oregonian

Summary: This article discusses how the rates of childhood poverty are still increasing even with the economy being in a ‘recovery’ mode and what some of the local school districts and schools are individually doing to help children of families that are considered “at poverty level”.  Some of the biggest challenges that schools are seeing are that people who are newly “poor” are often hesitant to ask for help.  For many it is the first time they have been in this situation and are often unsure of how to get help or are just uncomfortable asking for help.  Certain local area schools have been taking steps to let people know it is okay to ask for help and have also started raising funds privately to cover cost of field trip fees and providing snacks for children who get hungry during the day but due to lack of resources have no food to eat.  The schools are trying to look at the situation of child poverty as a way to reinforce to the children that it is not about what you have or don’t have but about your character and doing the very best you can.

Commentary: I thought this article provided a good base as to what the child poverty levels are locally and what some people are doing as individual as well as groups to help the children in need.  Even with the economy in somewhat of a recovery mode the child poverty levels locally are at a five year high.  I found it interesting that people either don’t know how or hesitant to ask for help.  I think the schools taking steps to make it easier to ask for help is very important.  Even the smallest of things like providing snacks for children can make a big difference.

Citation: Hammond, Betsy. “Portland schools see more children slipping from middle-class to hungry” Oregonian, The.  December 2011: Newspaper Source. Web. December 2011.

Web address: http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2011/12/portland_schools_see_more_chil.html

“Half of black children in Oregon live in poverty, new census data show” by Nikole Hannah-Jones, The Oregonian

Summary: This article provides information on how child poverty affects children of different ethnicities at different levels.  It also discusses how the African American children have the highest rate of child poverty out of all of the ethnicities and how it is not an ethnic issue but a community issue.  The article addresses the issue of, in addition to the down economy; African Americans face other obstacles such as housing and employment that create an even higher rate of child poverty.

Commentary: I thought this was a great article.  It really showed how different ethnicities have different rates of child poverty and the reasons why.  There are so many factors that play into the rates of child poverty.  And the assumptions that are made and the conclusions that people come to are often way off base and unsubstantiated.

Citation: Hannah-Jones, Nikole. “Half of black children in Oregon live in poverty, new census data show.” Oregonian, The. November 2011: Newspaper Source. Web. November 2011.

Web address: http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2011/11/half_of_black_children_in_oreg.html

Academic sources:

“Child Poverty In The United States 2009 and 2010: Selected Race Groups and Hispanic Origin” by Suzanne McCartney

Summary: Although a little out dated this report from the Census Bureau breaks down all different aspects of child poverty with regards to race, geographic locations and many other factors that may determine the level of child poverty.

Commentary: This report provides a very detailed analysis of the poverty rates of children of different ethnicities.  It also provides a geographic breakdown of child poverty at the national level as well as on a state by state basis with regards to child poverty.

Citation: McCartney, Suzanne. “Child Poverty in the United States 2009 and 2010: Selected Race Groups and Hispanic Origin” US Census Bureau. November 2011. Web. November 2011.

Web Address: http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/acsbr10-05.pdf

“The effects of Poverty on academic achievement” by Misty Locour and Laura D. Tissington

Summary: This is a study on the effects of poverty on children with regards to the limited educational resources.  It discusses how children within the poverty level struggle to achieve the same academic levels as children of non poverty households.

Citation: Lacour, Misty and Tissington, Laura. “The effects of poverty on academic achievement.” Educational Research and Reviews, Vol. 6 (7), pp. 522-527.  July 2011.  Academic Journals. academicjournals.com. Web. November 2011.

Web address:

http://www.academicjournals.org/err/pdf/pdf%202011/july/lacour%20and%20tissington.pdf

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