I have not written an Executive Director newsletter in many weeks; primarily I have just felt overwhelmed by the current social, political and economic environment in America. This has left me with many questions and concerns about my part in this system and how can I change the system. After much reading, listening and research I have found much inspiration yet no answers so I guess it is time to get back to these bi-weekly newsletters. I am pleased to report some good news. Most of the following has been taken from the Children’s Defense Fund weekly newsletter.
POVERTY DECREASED IN 2015. The U.S. Census Bureau data released recently found 43.1 million poor people in America in 2015, 3.5 million fewer than 2014, but higher than before the recession began in 2007. The disheartening news is that one in three people in poverty is a child. Children remain the poorest age group in America, with more than 14.5 million poor, one million fewer than in 2014. Although the child poverty rate decreased in 2015, the number of poor children remains stubbornly high.
Child poverty rates declined for White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian children and that is good news. Yet despite the good news, children of color are still disproportionately poor and comprise nearly 70 percent of poor children in America. One in three Black children and more than one in four Hispanic children were poor in 2015, compared to one in eight White children. They live in another America. In 2020, the majority of children in our country will be children of color, so when we deny them the basic necessities of life we are threating all of our futures.
The younger children are in America the poorer they are: in 2015 more than one in five infants, toddlers and preschoolers were poor during their years of greatest brain development. Nearly half of poor young children live in extreme poverty — at less than half the poverty level.
Poverty hurts and the damage can last a lifetime. The research is so clear that the early years are critically important in laying a foundation for early childhood and adulthood. There is no more urgent need than ensuring a high equality early childhood development system for our children.
Poverty is defined as an annual income below $24,257 for a family of four. Extreme poverty is half of the annual poverty level, or less than $12,129 for a family of four. There are more than 6.5 million extremely poor children in America — more than the combined populations of Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. No family with a parent working full-time year-round should be poor in our nation. Yet in 2015, more than two-thirds of poor children had at least one family member who worked, and nearly one-third had at least one family member who worked full-time year-round.
Research shows children growing up poor are less likely to grow up healthy and succeed in school and more likely to be poor as adults. While the latest numbers show we have one million new reasons to celebrate, we must keep going and finish the job of ensuring a level playing field for every child.
Closer to home we find that Ohio's poverty rate dropped and the median household income rose last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There were about 111,000 fewer people living in poverty in 2015 compared to 2014. The poverty rate dropped to 14.8 percent in 2015 from 15.8 percent.
Despite the improvement, Ohio still had 1.674 million people living below the federally established poverty level. That compared with 1.785 million the previous year. The decline in Ohioans in poverty was a positive sign but there still a "tremendous" amount of work that needs to be done. The work continues at the West Side Catholic Center!
You read about the Capital Campaign in this newsletter as well as other printed material. To date we have raised $1.7 million of our $2.0 million goal. We continue to connect with supporters and donors to reach our goal. If you have not heard about the campaign please let me know and I will be happy to share our plans. This campaign is so important for the sustainability of the work we do at WSCC.
As always, thank you for reading,
WSCC Executive Director
Upcoming at WSCC:
Thursday, October 13 – 7:30am – Advancement Committee
Saturday, October 15 – 8;30am – St. Joseph Church – S.O.U.L Race to benefit WSCC
Tuesday, October 18, - 7:30am – Program Committee
Wednesday, October 19 – 7:30am – Governance Committee
Thursday, October 20 – 8am – Mass in Resource Center,
Friday, November 4 – 7:30am – Finance Committee
Saturday, November 5 – 6pm – Warm Hearts, Winter Nights – Downtown Cleveland Marriott