Families need change

Published 10:17am Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The numbers could be numbing: More than a third of our children are living in poverty; more than 17 percent of births are to unmarried teenagers; nearly 40 percent are in single-parent families.
The Kids Count statistics that measure child well-being in counties across Alabama were released Tuesday, and they paint a much bleaker picture than we’d like of life for Escambia County’s 9,500 children.
For those who work directly with these families, the frustration is in the cycle of poverty. Not only is the economy affecting these families — with the need for food stamps higher and the inability to pay child support growing — but the cycle repeats itself when children who were born to young mothers also have babies too young.
But while the problems are frustrating, those who work directly with these families are certainly not throwing up their hands. Organizations like Hope Place have classes in parenting and job skills — proactive programs to help turn the tide, while the Department of Human Resources has more traditional aid for families.
All of these people and programs, as DHR Director Lynn Barnes said, are “standing in the breach” to help children living in poverty.
But what will help the most to break the cycle, Barnes said, is for people to make the decision on their own to change their lives.
Personal responsibility, combined with safety net programs, can break the cycle of poverty.

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