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Report on Poverty Reveals Troubling Numbers - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Report on Poverty Reveals Troubling Numbers

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A report out Tuesday offers some troubling numbers on poverty rates among children in the commonwealth. Now the group behind that report is urging state lawmakers to try and help.

The report from Voices for Virginia's Children says more than 30,000 children fell below the poverty line in the last few years, but there are ways to help.

Voices for Virginia's Children Executive Director John Morgan said, "There are many, many families struggling, and in fact the child poverty rate continues to rise even though the recession has officially ended."

Morgan presented a new poverty report to state lawmakers Tuesday. The report shows since the economic downturn began around 2008, 33,000 more Virginia children have fallen below the poverty line, bringing the total up to 265,000.

"Think of the fact that in some Virginia communities, 4 in 10 children are growing up in poverty. That's an astounding number," stated Morgan.

The income disparities are greatest among minorities. About 10 percent of white children are considered impoverished, compared to 18 percent of Hispanics and 28 percent of African-Americans.

Voices wants the General Assembly to enact legislation aimed at lowering those numbers. They want lawmakers to restore funding to childhood home visiting programs, where social workers council impoverished families.  They also want more funding for the Virginia Preschool Initiative.

Morgan explained, "Those low-income kids are the most likely to start school already behind, and they're in danger of never catching up if they don't start prepared to succeed."

Morgan is worried that newly impoverished families are not aware of existing programs to help, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the free or reduced school lunch program. Last year, the governor's office launched a No Kid Hungry Initiative to try and get the word out about those programs.

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