Austin organization outlines city's issues with child poverty

AUSTIN - In Travis County, an increasingly high number of children are living in poverty, especially among Hispanic and Black families. A local organization is not just trying to create awareness -- but action to fight this problem.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) is holding a Dare Texas Summit Nov. 30 to Dec. 1. One of the key topics of discussion is how to improve poverty rates for Travis County children. In the county, 28 percent of Hispanic children are in poverty while 32 percent of Black children are, according to State of Texas Children 2016: Race and Equity in Austin. These rates are nearly six times higher than they are for White or Asian children.

Frances Deviney, associate director for the CPPP, said Thursday's summit is about more than starting a discussion.

"We really wanted to take a look at how kids are doing in our community," Deviney said. "We wanted to dig a little deeper to see where we need to actually make improvements or break down barriers for kids of color."

Deviney said the "dare" part of this summit is pointed towards many people.

"We're asking Texas to dare itself," Deviney said. "We're asking the people who are attending the summit to dare themselves to really push for those bigs bold strokes that we know Texas can engage in. If policies can create barriers, they can also break them down."

Lisa Hamilton works for the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore. She traveled down to Austin because her organization works with places around the country to improve outcomes for children and families. While she said Austin has shown great progress in terms of educational equity, there is still some issues in regards to the children's parents.

"Work force opportunities aren't as equally available in this city, and so I think Austin has to focus on ways to expand access to work force developing programs and good jobs so that parents can take care of their families," Hamilton said.

The CPPP collected data related to the median income of Travis County households with children for 2015 and these are the numbers:

Asian: $145,000
White: $121,000
Black: $50,000
Hispanic: $43,000

Deviney also mentioned that since 2009, Austin's uninsured rate for children has started to trend down, meaning more Austin children now have medical coverage.

"We really believe that making Texas number one for kids is our moonshot today," Deviney said. "It's about action. They need to go out and make the proposals, make the changes that are needed in communities to really make sure that every child has the same true opportunities."

To learn more about CPPP and the report released today related to Austin-area child poverty, you can visit forabettertexas.org.

(© 2016 KVUE)


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