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Teresa Kunze
2007-07-30 15:23:00
Living in poverty- part II
Answer: It is important to remember that in the United States approximately 12.6 percent of the population lives at or below the national poverty level. That means that a family of four earning $20,000 or less a year is living in poverty (2006). These are the working poor, elderly, disabled and children. The effects of poverty are felt by many in our community, including children. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 17 percent of the children (under 18 years old) in Wichita were living in poverty in 2003. Sue Steele with the Wichita Public Schools reports that 960 children in the Wichita area were identified as being homeless or living doubled up with another family between August 2006 and June 2007. Last year, more than 300 children stayed in our two shelters. In 2003, the Early Childhood Specialist identified that 30 percent of the children (birth to five years) staying in our shelters needed additional developmental or behavioral help. In the past few years, the St. Anthony Family Shelter has also sheltered children with mental illnesses. This has a great impact on their families. These children experience homelessness, limited or no health care, nutrition limited by family incomes and some face being home alone if families cannot find affordable, reliable and available childcare. How Catholic Charities Helps At Catholic Charities we are working to meet these special needs of children. The new St. Anthony Family Shelter will have a room designed just for children. A playroom with a one-way window allows the Early Childhood Specialist to monitor how children interact with other children and their own family. This will aid the specialist as she works with families to ensure the success of their children. To meet the needs of those who come with mental health concerns, a counselor has started at St. Anthony Family Shelter. Having a counselor available for adults and children provides additional support and helps families cope with the stress of homelessness and other issues they face. Staff connects families with health care and other resources available in the community, including families who are referred to Hunter Health Clinic. In addition, a representative from Hunter Health Clinic provides an educational session for residents each month. How You Can Help In order to make an impact in the lives of these families, agencies, government, and individuals must work together to improve public policy. Catholic Charities USA is working to cut poverty in half by 2020. This campaign focuses on Health Care, Housing, Nutrition and Economic Security for those living in poverty. Attend the Respect Life and Social Justice Office Annual Conference on Sept. 8 to learn more about the national campaign to cut poverty in half by 2020. Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA will present Poverty in America: A Threat to the Common Good. Hear about how Catholic Charities USA is engaging legislators on key issues that affect the impoverished and how you can stay informed on current legislation and opportunities to engage legislators. Visit www.catholiccharitieswichita.org for a copy of the Respect Life and Social Justice Office Annual Conference registration brochure and for more information on Poverty in America: A Threat to the Common Good.
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