One more face of local poverty: the child

Thank you for bringing attention to the problem of poverty in our community. As David Forbes described in the article "Down and Out in Asheville" [May 5], poverty is a silent epidemic that is taking its toll on seniors, working adults and families.

There is one more group that is being hit particularly hard, but their voice is not being heard. That is children. One out of every five children in Buncombe County lives in poverty.

Poverty affects how children grow, learn and develop. It influences how children will be as adults by impacting their long-term social and economic development. This is why Children First/Communities in Schools is leading a community-wide initiative to reduce the impact of child poverty in Buncombe County. The team is charged with inspiring and sustaining a local movement to reduce the impact of child poverty in Buncombe County through education, collaboration and public-policy advocacy.

We chose to focus on three key areas that are at the root of child poverty in our community:

• Early Childhood Development and Education: New research on childhood development emphasizes how critical the early years of 0-5 are for a child's long-term health and success. Ensuring quality early care and education is key.

• Family Supports: This encompasses the services provided to families, such as Food Stamps or Medicaid. It also includes how family and community members support one another and the stresses that go along with living in poverty.

• Economic Stability and Asset Development: Of course, it's about jobs. But it's also about supporting financial literacy and savings accounts for children.

Child poverty touches all of us, not just those who have trouble making ends meet. A bright, healthy, well-adjusted community and workforce in the future starts with all our children today.

— Allison Jordan
executive director
Children First/Communities in Schools

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