Follow CBSDFW.COM: Facebook | Twitter

DALLAS (CBS11) – In the shadow of economic power and affluence, more evidence today that the nation’s economic divide grows wider.

READ MORE: Woman Found Dead After Apparent Domestic Dispute At Dallas Apartment, Police Say

According to the latest KidsCount Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 1.7 million more children live in low-income working families today than during the Great Recession.

“It’s closer to us than we think,” says Susan Hoff, Chief Strategy & Operating Officer at the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. “There are over 130,000 people right here in North Texas that are employed full time, but still live below the poverty level.”

According to the KidsCount researchers, some 22% of American children live in poverty. The numbers are even higher—roughly 25%– in Texas.

“Our personal life has been put on the back burner,” says Elizabeth Booker of DeSoto, “just the bills, food and bills. Nothing extra. That’s about it.”

Booker worked—hard. But, she says her minimum wage job meant that even with her husband’s salary, making ends meet for a family has been hard. So Booker is taking advantage of a free training program at Per Scholas, a local non-profit supported by the United Way.

READ MORE: Strong To Severe Storms Possible In North Texas Sunday, Main Threats Are Large Hail And Damaging Winds

The name is Latin and means “for scholars”… but, for students it could also mean working ‘for a better future.’

“If we really want to change things,” says Hoff, “we have to invest in what the systemic issues are—not having the skills that leads to a job that leads to a career that enables somebody to support themselves and their family.”

Booker is earning an entry level IT certification that will help her transition from a low paying job, to a career with a more stable future.

Billy Lane, Per Scholas Managing Director, says with certification in hand graduates can earn $30,000 a year or more and can expect increases as they gain experience. Booker is studying to take her certification exams right now—and has a job offer waiting.

“I’ve always said there’s got to be a better way,” says Booker, “and I’ve found it.”

MORE NEWS: Suspect Wanted For Shooting Bouncer In Deep Ellum

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)