DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Prosperity in Texas may be the fuel for Governor Rick Perry’s presidential campaign, but as it turns out, when it comes to children, there are few states where more kids are living in poverty.
According to a new report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 24 percent of kids in Texas are living in poverty. The national average is 20 percent, making Texas one of the worst states for childhood poverty.
In the Dallas Independent School District, the numbers are even more staggering – 80 percent of students living in poverty.
Simone Hogan of Dallas knows the pain of poverty. She spent much of her mid-20s trying to escape. “Not having your own place to stay. Not having furniture,” the single mom said of her time below the poverty line. “Not having simple things that you didn’t think of, that you need.”
But things changed, and the 29-year-old is now close to a business degree while working in the finance department of Dallas Summer Musicals. “Everything that I do right now is because I focus on – she deserves better. She deserves a better life,” Hogan said, talking about her daughter.
“It’s a critical issue,” explained Jennifer Sampson, CEO of the United Way in Dallas, who was not surprised by the report’s findings. Her nonprofit’s United 2020 program has set a goal of lifting 250,000 North Texans out of poverty. “We’re focused on programs that help break costly, destructive cycles in education, income and health. In the income area, the focus is breaking the costly, destructive cycle of poverty.”
Hogan was not surprised by the report’s findings either. The poison apple of poverty has been around forever and, thanks to the current economy, more and more people are now taking a bite. “People have struggled since the start of time,” Hogan said. “But right now, I feel like more people are feeling the effects, and they’re realizing that everything is not promised. A job is not promised. Finances are not promised.”