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Understanding Child Poverty: Facts and Statistics

Poverty can be described as “the state of one who has insufficient resources”. Poverty not only includes a lack of income, but also a lack of resources to ensure sustainable livelihood, such as food, clothing, clean water, and proper shelter. Poverty has many detrimental outcomes for children – hunger and malnutrition, ill health, limited or a lack of access to education and other basic services, just to name a few.

Of the 2.2 billion children in the world, 1 billion are living in poverty

Poverty can cause children permanent damage, both physically and mentally, and in both the short and long term. A lack of essentials can stunt their growth, cause them to fall behind in school, and lead to health problems for them. It also affects their roles within their families, communities, and in society as a whole. Poverty denies children their human rights, and it leads to a vicious cycle of deprivation, which is difficult to break without proper support or assistance.

Global poverty facts

– Of the 2.2 billion children in the world, 1 billion are living in poverty

– According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty

– Every year, 3.1 million children die (8,500 children per day) due to poor nutrition

– 1 in 4 children is living in poverty in the world’s richest countries

– 805 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat

– 80% of the world’s population lives on the equivalent of less than $10 a day

– Almost half the world — over three billion people — lives on less than $2.50 a day

National poverty facts

 – About 15 million children in the United States, or 21%, live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold

– There are 72.4 million children in the United States; 41% of them live in low-income families

– Almost 40% of American kids spends at least 1 year in poverty before they turn 18

There are 72.4 million children in the United States; 41% of them live in low-income families

– The estimated percentage of U.S. households that were food insecure in 2015 is 12.7% (15.8 million households, or approximately 1 in 8 households)

– Children living in poverty have a higher rate of absenteeism or leave school altogether because they are more likely to have to work or care for family members

– Students who come from low-income families are 7 times more likely to drop out of school than those from families with higher incomes 

What Children Incorporated does to help alleviate childhood poverty

Children Incorporated provides basic necessities such as food, clothing, healthcare, and educational support to children living in poverty in the U.S. and abroad. These essentials, so often taken for granted, are vital to a child’s growth and success in school. Each year, we give thousands of impoverished children all over the world a chance at a better life.

How you can help

You can help a child living in poverty in a few different ways. One is through our child sponsorship program. Our sponsorship program does more than just feed or clothe a child; for $30 a month, you not only help meet the basic and critical needs of a child, but you also make an investment in their future.

Our policy has always been to consider the needs of each sponsored child on an individual basis. We work closely with our volunteer coordinators at our project sites, who are familiar with each individual circumstance, and the needs of every child in their care. Sponsorship donations are sent to our projects – orphanages, homes, community centers, and schools – at the beginning of each month in the form of subsidy stipends. Our on-site volunteer coordinators use these funds to purchase basic and education-related items for children in our program, to ensure that they have what they need to do their very best and succeed in school.

For $30 a month, you not only help meet the basic and critical needs of a child, but you also make an investment in their future.

You can also help children in need by donating to one of our special funds. Our special funds offer a variety of giving options for sponsors who wish to further their support, as well as for donors who wish to make a difference without making a commitment.

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References:

http://nccp.org/topics/childpoverty.html

http://nccp.org/publications/pub_1194.html

United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME). “UNICEF: Committing to Child Survival: A promise renewed.” UNICEF, 2014. Accessed February 25, 2015.

https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/65766/2000369-Child-Poverty-and-Adult-Success.pdf

http://www.feedingamerica.org/assets/pdfs/fact-sheets/child-hunger-fact-sheet.pdf

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-education-and-poverty-america

https://borgenproject.org/10-facts-children-living-poverty/

https://www.unicef.org/sowc05/english/povertypossible.html

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD with Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child with Children Incorporated in one of three ways – call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

Seven Ways We Help Children in the United States

Children Incorporated frequently asks our on-site volunteer coordinators at our affiliated projects what services the children they work with are in need of most. As members of the kids’ communities, our coordinators are in contact with our sponsored and unsponsored children and their families on a daily basis, and are in the best position to know exactly what they need.

Listed below are some of their most common responses, which we hope will help you to better understand how your donations to Children Incorporated change the lives of children and families in the United States.

Enabling literacy

Many of the children we serve have little to no reading material at home.

Many of the children we serve have little to no reading material at home; they don’t personally own any books, nor do they have magazine subscriptions. Additionally, many schools are so underfunded that their libraries and classrooms have extremely limited selections for reading and old titles. Your donations will put books in kids’ hands; your contributions will foster their imaginations and a love for reading.

One of our recent initiatives includes providing a school in the Navajo Nation with a large selection of picture and early reader books on their native culture and language. We also help kids participate in their school book fairs by letting them have books of their own to take home at no cost to their families.

Providing enrichment and remediation

Our children have amazing potential – but some of them need extra academic help. They may come from homes in which their parents have little education, and are unable to help them with their homework. Many kids have never been out of their communities, but their parents can’t afford to pay for field trips. Your gifts will help to provide for summer and after-school programs that offer tutoring and a variety of stimulating educational activities.

In the past, we funded a program at a summer camp that focused on social studies in a structured yet fun way. These summer camp students had performed very poorly in the subject of social studies at the school they attended, as documented in pretests. At the end of the summer, however, the same kids were tested again, and their scores had improved significantly.

Supporting career awareness and higher education

Our children have amazing potential – but some of them need extra academic help. They may come from homes in which their parents have little education, and are unable to help them with their homework.

As children grow up, they need hope for their futures. Many have no idea about all the possibilities they have in life, as young people with potential bright futures ahead of them. Your donations will go towards helping them with vital programs in their pre-teen and teenage years, like job and career fairs, internships, and the provision of equipment or supplies needed for vocational courses. Once our teens graduate from high school, they may apply for our Higher Education Program.

We have provided goggles for welding courses, and have funded an entrepreneur course. We are currently assisting several graduating sponsored and unsponsored children with the costs associated with technical schools, community colleges, colleges, and universities.

Providing access to healthcare

Many of the public schools with which we affiliate are underfunded and underequipped. Our coordinators need a variety of items to keep children healthy. These articles range from underwear for kindergarten accidents to antibiotic ointment and bandages for cuts and scrapes; from soap and shampoo to toothbrushes and toothpaste for kids who have run out of these items at home. We work to help keep children clean and healthy, so that they can attend school regularly, and are able to learn.

Providing weather-appropriate items and outfits

Low-income parents make hard decisions every day about how to spend their money, and what their families will have to go without: Do they pay the electric bill or replace their daughter’s split shoes? If the power goes out or is turned off, does their son have a warm blanket on his bed to keep him comfortable and healthy? Our coordinators have told us about kids taking turns going to school because there is only one winter coat to wear in the family. Many children miss school in bad weather due to inadequate clothing, lowered immunity, and illnesses resulting from not having these basic necessities. Your donations will provide these kids with the items that our coordinators feel are most needed.

Preventing hunger

Many kids have never been out of their communities, but their parents can’t afford to pay for field trips.

Food insufficiency occurs when a child and their family don’t always have enough to eat. School children have access to the National School Lunch Program. What about when these kids are at home, though? The federal food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is an important resource. Amounts provided to families must be strictly managed, however, and many families run out of assistance before they are allotted a subsequent installment.

Other family groups, like grandparents raising grandchildren, are sometimes too proud to ask for government aid. Our coordinators tell us that a significant number of the kids enrolled in our program have inadequate food at their homes, especially on weekends and during school breaks. As a result, our coordinators will often identify the children with the greatest need, and on Fridays, send them home with food-stuffed backpacks; and extra provisions are provided for breaks, as funds permit. Not only is food insufficiency detrimental to the health of these children, but it also correlates with academic and psychosocial difficulties – so these kids truly require all the nutritional assistance that can be provided to them.

Helping children to be active and grow up healthy

With school budgets slashed, many schools have reduced or eliminated physical education as part of their standard curriculum. School playgrounds in the most underfunded districts usually have broken, rusted, or no playground equipment; and impoverished parents must prioritize paying bills over providing for activities. Playtime is vital for children’s physical and emotional health, though; research shows that playing is linked to healthy brain growth. Donations to our Hope In Action Fund will support playground refurbishment, as well as the implementation of programs and the purchase of toys that promote physical activity, as determined by our coordinators.

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HOW CAN I SUPPORT CHILDREN IN THE UNITED STATES?

You can contribute to support children in the United States in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and donate to one of our many special funds.

An Invitation of a Lifetime

Not long ago, we receive a letter from our volunteer coordinator at our affiliated project CADI (Centro de Assistência e Desenvolvimento Integral) in Brazil about one of our sponsored children, Celia*. Celia, an avid rugby player at her high school, was invited to play professionally, and was in need of support to purchase a new uniform, proper shoes, and to cover her travel expenses to and from matches. Her coordinator asked Children Incorporated if we could help, and we were happy to do so, knowing that this was the opportunity of a lifetime for Celia to pursue her dreams.

Getting to know CADI

Celia has been playing rugby since 2014.

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world – both geographically and in terms of population. It is truly massive, sharing borders with every other country in South America except for Ecuador and Chile. The Amazon rainforest – recognized for having the greatest biological diversity on the planet – sprawls over the country’s northern half, and there are rugged mountains to the south. Despite its wealth of natural resources and beauty, Brazil suffers from staggering poverty, rising inflation, unemployment, and a lack of social development. These issues are especially pronounced in Fazenda Rio Grande, a town in the outskirts of Curitiba in southern Brazil.

There, many families struggle to afford even the most basic necessities – including their children’s education-related expenses. What began in 1994 as a soccer school to motivate and assist the children of these low-income families has now become CADI – a national nonprofit organization that maintains a center for holistic development in Fazenda Rio Grande. CADI’s mission is to motivate and equip these deserving children to rise above the difficult socioeconomic circumstances from which they come, thus helping them to break the cycle of poverty. Thanks to CADI’s support, as well as that of her sponsor, Celia has been able to attend school, and to find her passion for the sport of rugby.

A letter to her sponsor

We are very proud of Celia for her accomplishments, and we wish her all the best as she continues to work hard both in school and on the rugby field.

Upon finding out that she had been asked to play on a professional rugby team, Celia wrote a letter to her sponsor explaining how she first got started playing the sport years ago.

“Dear Sponsor,

“It’s been six years since I started attending CADI, and during these years, I have participated in various activities and classes. I started playing rugby in 2014. I started playing just for fun with a friend of mine, even when many people say that it is a sport for boys. Who would have guessed that two tough girls would make history for our team? Our team keeps winning at festivals and in competitions.”

We are very proud of Celia for her accomplishments, and we wish her all the best as she continues to work hard both in school and on the rugby field.

*Name changed for child’s protection.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN BRAZIL?

You can sponsor a child in Brazil in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in Brazil that is available for sponsorship.

Achieving Their Dreams

The purpose of our Higher Education Fund is to assist young people enrolled in our sponsorship program with financial support so that they can attend college, university, or certification courses once they graduate from high school. The assistance they receive is one of the best ways to help break the cycle of poverty, because higher education gives them the skills and training they need to make a living wage or better when they enter into the competitive workforce.

How the program works

Children Incorporated has helped sponsored children to obtain a higher education since our very beginning – but only in a small way until 2011, when we expanded the program. Volunteer coordinators in both our U.S. and International Divisions may nominate children in their last year of secondary education. These students are considered high achievers who the coordinators believe to have the capacity and desire for higher education, and the drive to complete the certificate or degree that they aspire to obtain.

Our Higher Education Fund helps former sponsored children achieve their dreams beyond high school.

Once accepted into our Higher Education Program, these young people may pursue any course of study at an accredited institution. Their support may be renewed each term, provided they present official documentation of passing grades and continued enrollment. Today, past beneficiaries of our Higher Education Fund work in a variety of capacities – from state troopers to hair stylists, to teachers, to speech pathologists.

Funds provided by Children Incorporated, thanks to our sponsors and donors, are critically important for these young adults to be able to enter into and remain in college or university until they achieve their respective certificates or degrees. For these special Higher Education Fund recipients, the results include more favorable opportunities for them to find jobs in their communities.

Two special university students

Funds provided by Children Incorporated, thanks to our sponsors and donors, are critically important for these young adults to be able to enter into and remain in college or university until they achieve their respective certificates or degrees.

 Two very special former sponsored children are currently recipients of assistance through our Higher Education Fund. Natalie* from North Carolina was nominated by her former volunteer coordinator at the high school that she attended as an “excellent, calm, and conscientious” twelfth-grader who was active in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). Her parents, who struggled financially to raise three children, are now bringing up a grandchild. The father does odd jobs, and the mother is a home health aide; so the support that Natalie receives from Children Incorporated is essential in her pursuit of a higher education. Natalie now attends Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina. She is working on a degree in business administration, and has an A/B average.

Kathryn from Kentucky was nominated by our volunteer coordinator at her high school because she was “a very bright girl who gets along well with her peers, and is active in band; choir; the Junior Homemakers; and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)”. Kathryn currently attends Eastern Kentucky University, and she is working on dual degrees in English with a concentration in creative writing, and broadcasting with a concentration in film. She maintains an A/B average as well.

We are so proud of all of our Higher Education Fund recipients, and we look forward to supporting more children in the future in achieving their dreams!

*Names changed for children’s protection.

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How do I donate to the Higher Education Fund?

 You can contribute to our Higher Education Fund in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and donate to our Higher Education Fund.

New Mattresses for Families in Costa Rica

Last year, Andreia Beraldo, Children Incorporated’s International Projects Specialist, and I traveled to Costa Rica to visit our affiliated project Santa Luisa in the small town of Bratsi (Bambu). A five-hour drive southeast from San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital in the Talamanca Mountains Region, the town is located along the country’s border with Panama. Bratsi is mostly inhabited by the indigenous Bribri tribe, and it is close to the Sixaola River, which separates Costa Rica from Panama by just a short boat ride.

The area produces various crops including bananas, plantains, cacao, and a variety of tropical fruits; agriculture provides little income for the families in the region, however. Among the houses and schools within the Bratsi community is the Santa Luisa home for the elderly, which not only serves the aging population, but also provides support for children in the community.

A home in the jungle

When we arrived, our Volunteer Coordinator at the time, Sister Bertalina, showed us around the grounds of Santa Luisa, which are well-kept and full of chickens, roosters, and fruit trees – all of which provide food for the residents of the home. Santa Luisa is funded and run by the government. Ten staff members help care for upwards of 25 elderly residents at a time, and the four Sisters that live on the property help to oversee operations, as well as to provide support through our sponsorship program for the children in the surrounding communities and their families.

For the past nine years, during five of which Sister Bertalina was at Santa Luisa, the 83 children in our program there have been receiving food, clothing, shoes, and school supplies upon monthly visits to the home. After showing us the Santa Luisa grounds, Sister Bertalina took us to visit the home of two children in our program, only a few minutes’ drive away. The visit took us into the jungle, where at first glance, it didn’t seem that a path off the main road existed at all. Blanketed by large banana trees, the road was narrow and muddy, and it took us up a steep incline. When we arrived at the wooden two-bedroom house, which was built on stilts on the side of a hill, we were greeted by the father, who held his small son in his arms. His wife and their other son were out for the day.

The one mattress that the whole family shared was torn, and it really needed to be replaced because of water damage.

New mattresses for Christmas

The father explained that the roof leaks whenever it rains, so they have to bag their clothes up and tie those bags to the rafters in order to keep their belongings dry during times of precipitation. The one mattress that the whole family shared was torn, and it really needed to be replaced because of water damage. As we left, Sister Bertalina mentioned that she wanted to buy mattresses for many of these families who sleep on the floor or on foam padding – families that have the same issues with rain and humidity ruining their mattresses.

Thankfully, once Andreia and I returned home, Sister Bertalina submitted a request for support from our Hope In Action Fund to purchase mattresses for all of our sponsored and unsponsored children at Santa Luisa. This past Christmas, the mattresses arrived, and each of the families picked up one brand new mattress each. We are so grateful to our donors and supporters that we were able to help these families with an urgent need.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN COSTA RICA?

You can sponsor a child in Costa Rica in one of three ways – call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, email us at sponsorship@childrenin-inc.org, or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in Costa Rica that is available for sponsorship.

A Bright Future for Maria

Education has always been one of Children Incorporated’s core values; and that is why, since our very beginning, we have supported our sponsored and unsponsored children through our Higher Education Fund. Our Higher Education Fund helps young people pursue their dreams of completing certificate programs or obtaining a degree from a university or college by providing them with financial support. The program is highly effective, thanks to our amazing volunteer coordinators, who know each and every one of our sponsored and unsponsored children personally – and as such, also know their individual needs and goals.

Thanks to our Higher Education Fund, Maria was able to attend college.

The volunteer coordinators in both our International and U.S. Divisions nominate children who are enrolled in our program and are in their last year of secondary education. Once accepted into our Higher Education Program, these young people may pursue any course of study they wish at an accredited institution. Many of our Higher Education Fund beneficiaries have later returned to their communities in positions as teachers, nurses, social workers, accountants, architects, counselors, and speech therapists.

Contributions to our Higher Education Fund essentially help make our sponsored and unsponsored youngsters’ dreams come true. We recently heard from a former sponsored child who received assistance from our Higher Education Fund – and just that has happened for her. Her name is Maria* and she is from Bolivia; she started on her path to education at our affiliated project Pedro Poveda School in La Paz.

Maria’s home

The small landlocked nation of Bolivia comprises the rugged Andes Mountains and vast high-altitude plateaus to the west – including a portion of Lake Titicaca, the largest high-altitude lake in the world – and lush lowland plains of the Amazon Jungle to the east. Despite its wealth of natural beauty and resources, however, Bolivia bears the scars of centuries of conflict, beginning with the Spanish conquistadors, and followed by almost 200 years of wars and internal military coups. Political and economic instability have brought about considerable poverty, resulting in widespread malnutrition, crime, and disease.

Since Children Incorporated partners with Pedro Poveda School, we were able to match Maria with a sponsor, so that she could attend the school.

At 12,000 feet above sea level lies La Paz, the highest capital city in the world, and Maria’s hometown. Some of the city’s most impoverished have no sanitation or potable water, and disease and malnutrition are rampant there. Thankfully, children living in poverty have our affiliated project the Pedro Poveda School to offer them a safe and comfortable place to learn, which is just what Maria needed while growing up in poverty.

Maria was raised without a father, and her mother was very poor and could not afford to send her to school without support. Since Children Incorporated partners with Pedro Poveda School, we were able to match Maria with a sponsor, so that she could attend the school; she received school supplies, books, school uniforms, and other basic needs throughout the year. Not only did her sponsor send contributions, but she also wrote letters to Maria, which motivated her.

While she was in her last year of high school, our volunteer coordinator at Pedro Poveda School recommended Maria for our Higher Education Program, because Maria was a very good student – and she was accepted into the program. After her high school graduation, Maria went on to attend a college in Bolivia, thanks to our Higher Education Fund. She graduated from there with a degree in business administration, and soon after, began working in a hospital for women. Maria is very grateful for the generosity of our donors, as well as for that of her sponsor, who helped her to get where she is today, and to have a much brighter future than she would have had without an education.

*Name changed for child’s protection.

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How do I donate to the Higher Education Fund?

 You can contribute to our Higher Education Fund in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and donate to our Higher Education Fund.