Child poverty on the rise in Georgia

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AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG)—Georgia is now 40th in the nation for child and family well-being, according to the annual national ranking by the Annie E Casey Foundation. in 2014, Georgia was ranked 42nd in  the nation. The ranking looks at health, education, economic well-being, family and community.

While the Peach State has gone up in the rankings, the study still reveals some troubling information. The study shows one in four children in the state is living in poverty, which is actually up from one in five… in 2008. 

John Sebby, the Director of Development for the Salvation Army, said while these statistics are troubling, he’s hoping this will inspire people to help make some change locally

“It doesn’t surprise me at all. I’m saddened by it, I’d like to see it change, but we have seen, just in the last six months, the increase of the number of women and children in our shelter have gone up,” Sebby said. 

Twenty five percent of children in Georgia are living in poverty, and Georgia ranks 40th in the nation for child and family well being. The Annie E Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book says children living in poverty lack access to healthy food, consistent medical care and a high quality education. 

Sebby said there are some physical signs kids exhibit if they’re living in a state of poverty.

“Being more tired, dirty clothes, poor hygiene,” he said. 

Programs across the CSRA help provide free meals to children during the summer months, but Sebby thinks to help break the poverty cycle, education is the key.

“We really encourage reading. I mean, it’s so fundamental to have that love of reading and have books read to them,” said Sebby. “If a child can master reading and stay at a reading level, school is going to be so much easier than kids who struggle in every subject.” 

This is especially essential, because the report states 66% of Georgia fourth graders cannot read proficiently. 

But Sebby has hope for the Peach State, and said we can’t let this ranking define us. 

“We may be at 40th right now, but we’re not going to stay there,” he said. “Augusta is going to rise up and going to volunteer and donate the money and do the steps it needs to do in order to make this a better place for our children for the future.” 

South Carolina also improved their ranking, moving from 45th to 42nd nationally. 

Copyright 2015 WFXG. All rights reserved.

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Read the Georgia Family Connection Partnership release.

Georgia Family Connection is a statewide network with a Collaborative in all 159 counties.