Diane Bernard, Public News Service – MD
BALTIMORE – The number of children in Maryland living in concentrated poverty widened by 9,000 children since 2008, according to a new report by The Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The Kids Count snapshot shows that the amount of children in impoverished neighborhoods in the state grew from 51,000 to 60,000 in the past 11 years.
Shamoyia Gardiner, education policy director at Advocates for Children and Youth in Baltimore, says that’s despite economic growth across the nation.
“What we’re seeing is that people at the top are retaining larger profit and failing to distribute that throughout various economic classes,” she states. “So we’re seeing people who were already living in or close to poverty falling even deeper.”
Gardiner says a history of redlining in Maryland and throughout the country sustains chronic poverty by isolating poor neighborhoods with lower quality schools and limited access to health care.
One of the greatest liabilities in child development is growing up in a poor neighborhood, meaning 30% or more of the population is living in poverty, says Scot Spencer, associate state director of advocacy at The Casey Foundation.
The report shows nearly 12% of America’s children live in poverty. In Maryland’s largest city, Baltimore, that rate was an alarming 32% in 2014, according to the Maryland Governor’s Office for Children.
“No children should be living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty,” Spencer states. “The fact that we still have 8.5 million children after multiple years of economic expansion and growth should not be a satisfactory solution for anyone in the United States.”
Spencer says that living in high poverty neighborhoods puts young people at risk for poor health, environmental hazards and chronic stress.
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