Saturday, July 02, 2011

Children & Poverty

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Limbaugh attacks school lunches, suggests hungry children should "dumpster dive"
June 16, 2010
From the June 16 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: Then, a companion story from AOL News: "Record Number of US Kids Facing Summer of Hunger." "With the sc-rewl year ending in communities across America, more than 16 million children face a summer of hunger." Now, Michelle Obama told us they're all so fat and out of shape and overweight that a summer off from government eating might be just the ticket.
Could it be possible -- "while classes were in session, they relied on free or discount"--
This, of course, takes into no account that the parents, I guess, just can sit around and let their kids starve. Why if the kids don't do it, they're gonna starve -- if the schools don't do it, the kids are going to starve.
"The children caught in the gap will likely spend the next few months cadging leftovers from their neighbors, chowing down on cheap junk, lining up with their families at food banks that are already overmatched or simply learning to live with a constant headache, growling stomach and chronic fatigue. When school rolls around again in the fall, they will be less healthy and less ready to learn than their peers."
God, this is just -- we can't escape these people. We just can't escape them. They live in the utter deniability of basic human nature. They actually have it in their heads somehow that parents are so rotten that they will let their kids go hungry and starve, unless the schools take care of it [...]
You know, one of the benefits of school being out, in addition to your kids losing weight because they're starving to death out there because there's no school meal being provided, one of the benefits of school being out, college campi being vacant this time of year, is that our audience levels go up. I think, you know what we're going to do here, we're going to start a feature on this program: "Where to find food." For young demographics, where to find food. Now that school is out, where to find food. We can have a daily feature on this. And this will take us all the way through the summer. Where to find food. And, of course, the first will be: "Try your house." It's a thing called the refrigerator. You probably already know about it. Try looking there. There are also things in what's called the kitchen of your house called cupboards. And in those cupboards, most likely you're going to find Ding-Dongs, Twinkies, Lays ridgy potato chips, all kinds of dips and maybe a can of corn that you don't want, but it will be there. If that doesn't work, try a Happy Meal at McDonald's. You know where McDonald's is. There's the Dollar Menu at McDonald's and if they don't have Chicken McNuggets, dial 911 and ask for Obama.
There's another place if none of these options work to find food; there's always the neighborhood dumpster. Now, you might find competition with homeless people there, but there are videos that have been produced to show you how to healthfully dine and how to dumpster dive and survive until school kicks back up in August. Can you imagine the benefit we would provide people?
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Safe haven for homeless kids
This innovative day shelter is changing the lives of many children in Bangkok
Jun 9th, 2011
In the middle of Pomprab community, just five minutes’ walk from Bangkok’s Hua Lumphong railway station, stands a decades-old building. At first glance, it looks like other buildings, except that it shows its age but is well-preserved nonetheless. Yet anybody stepping inside the compound will realise it has a cosy atmosphere and a layout that is distinctly children-friendly.
Spread over two spacious floors with an open roof-top, the building is home to Hub Saidek Youth Club. It is a day shelter for homeless children who can drop in to relax, play and enjoy activities provided for them, and it is open to children from neighbouring communities as well.
Established by the Childline Thailand Foundation, an independent organisation that aims to provide children with access to protection, health and human services, as is their right.
Here children are ensured a safe, friendly environment as well as nutritious meals. The idea to set up the children’s home was inspired by Reverend Bill Crews’ Exodus Foundation which provides critical health care and welfare to some of Australia’s most marginalised communities. The club’s activities are modelled on the success of Exodus’ youth education programmes which provide quality educational services for struggling kids and homeless teens across Australia. Exodus also assisted Childline in sourcing funding to operate the club.
“Homeless children spend most of their days hanging around the city, begging, scavenging for food, and sleep at night in a makeshift shelter somewhere. They love freedom and, if we put them in an observation centre, they will eventually escape,” said MR Supinda Chakrabandhu, who chairs the board of Childline. “We just hope our club will be the kind of place that these children come to, and want to come back again and again.”
Hub Saidek Youth Club, a day shelter in Pomprap Sattruphai District, ensures a safe, friendly environment for underprivileged children.
According to MR Supinda, the place provides children with general welfare support including showers, clothes, washing facilities, haircuts and general medical examinations.
“A small number of homeless children started coming to our centre, and appeared more comfortable with the place. Some dropped in to take showers and wash their clothes, and sometimes spend several hours joining our games and activities, such as painting and reading books,” she said.
Its target groups include children aged five to 18, who may be in different circumstances, such as those who are homeless, struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, being subject to abuse or a difficult home environment, not enrolled in school or struggling with education, and those struggling with loneliness.
When the club’s staff identify any children at risk or in crisis, they will try to assist them as best as they can. Those who fall outside the target groups will be referred to appropriate organisations.
”For street children who come in, we try not to force them too much, and let them be the way they used to. What we do is think of the activities that should attract them. If they have a chance to do what they want to do, then we are half-way to success already,” she said.
A young girl immerses herself in a book.
After getting familiar, the children tend to open up to the clubs’s staff, who will then be able to respond to their needs in a more specific manner and try to guide them to a better future.
”We’ll look into their needs and try to fill in what they’re still lacking. If they want to get back into the formal education system, we’ll try to find them a place. If they’re teenagers who need vocational training, we may arrange some for them. For those who want further education, we’ll find donors who can offer them scholarships,” said MR Supinda.
She believes even street children expect security in life. ”Just having problems that drove them away from their homes doesn’t mean that these children want nothing else in their lives. We believe there are several ways they can go, with us being supporters who’ll guide them to the right places,” she said.
She added that the club has also been received warmly by children in nearby communities.
”Many of our young visitors came from the crowded flats nearby. Apart from home and school, they never expect this kind of place to be existing exist for them. When they come in, they feel safe and happy to have a space where they can spend their time freely,” she said.
Up to now the club has attracted nearly 20 street children and about 50 more from the nearby communities. The club is open from Wednesday to Friday, between 11am and 6pm. Community children usually come after school, while street children often drop in during the daytime.
”I and my friends have come here every day since the place opened. We like this kind of place. It’s fun and we have so many things to do _ having a shower, reading, painting, playing badminton. Sometimes we stay until the place is closed. It would be great if we could also sleep here,” said a 12-year-old street boy who normally wanders around Hua Lamphong station.
He noted the club is different from government welfare homes or observation centres where he used to be.
”Those places are governed by strict rules which we sometimes found hard to follow. But here we feel more comfortable and relaxed,” said the boy.
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MR Supinda said the club may extend its opening hours to 8pm, for street children only, but whether to make it a night shelter for the kids would require further consideration.
”We’ve never thought of serving as a night shelter as this kind of place is already available, but if there’s a real demand for it, we may discuss this further,” she said.
Therdsak Chamnongsilp, a child ac tivist at the club, said it took time for him and other staff to make friends and win trust from the street children.
”At first, they told us nothing, fearing we would send them home. I had to convince them we had no such intention, and that we only wanted to help them. As the children felt closer, they came more often and began to talk more about their living. That made it easier for us to give them advice and help,” Therdsak said.
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Homeless children: the hard times generation
CBC News
Produced by Robert G. Anderson, Nicole Young and Daniel Ruetenik
March 6, 2011
Unemployment improved a bit last month but it is still nearly nine percent and the trouble is job creation is so slow, it will be years before we get back the seven and a half million jobs lost in the Great Recession. American families have been falling out of the middle class in record numbers. The combination of lost jobs and millions of foreclosures means a lot of folks are homeless and hungry for the first time in their lives.
One of the consequences of the recession that you don't hear a lot about is the record number of children descending into poverty.
The government considers a family of four to be impoverished if they take in less than $22,000 a year. Based on that standard, and government projections of unemployment, it is estimated the poverty rate for kids in this country will soon hit 25 percent. Those children would be the largest American generation to be raised in hard times since the Great Depression.
In Seminole County, near Orlando, Fla., so many kids have lost their homes that school busses now stop at dozens of cheap motels where families crowd into rooms, living week to week.
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Destiny Corfee, 11, joined the line at one local motel a year ago. "I never really noticed what people were actually going through until now; until we're actually going through it too," she told "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley.
Destiny's parents David and Theresa never imagined their family homeless. Together they were making about $40 an hour detailing expensive cars. There was a three-bedroom home, vacations and extras for the kids. But both jobs went, and then the house. Evicted, they found that the homeless shelters wanted to split their family up - boys and girls.
"That was definitely something that I wasn't gonna have, was being separated at a time like this. I figured the time like this that we needed to be together more than anything," David Corfee said.
So David, Theresa, Destiny, Jorge and Chance, moved into their van.
"I was embarrassed that maybe one of my friends might see me. I don't want anybody to know that I was actually in there," Destiny told Pelley.
The van, according to Destiny, was parked at a WalMart.
"We would actually go in WalMart and clean our self up before we'd go to school," her brother Jorge remembered.
"How would you do that?" Pelley asked.
"I would like wash my face, and like, take a tissue and wash my arms and stuff," Jorge explained.
"We would bring the toothpaste and the toothbrush and the brushes so we'll go brush our hair in the mirror and people would see us," Destiny added. "And it would be kind of weird. But we worked through it."
"Tell me about the motel that you're living in now," Pelley said.
"Well, it's a lot better than the van!" Destiny replied.
But Jorge pointed out the living space is small: two rooms for the five of them. Their possessions, family photos - you name it - went into storage. And they lost it all, seized and sold, when they couldn't pay that bill.
"Most of my stuff was in there; my scooter, my game system, all my games, my clothes. So I lost most of my stuff," Jorge said.
"I had so many of my toys and things. My Barbie dolls, clothes, and it was just all gone," Destiny said.
The neighborhood around the motel is scary, she added. "You hear on the news all the time about shootings, and it's all right there."
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Children in Poverty
America's Ongoing War
The Overall Picture
In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared war on American soil: the War on Domestic Poverty. Since then, hundreds of billions of dollars have flowed from the U.S. government to large and small towns across America. Our government has provided free food, repaired dilapidated homes and furnished jobs to those in need.
Government agencies have indeed provided millions of Americans with much needed aid. Nevertheless, our country has not won the War on Poverty. In 1996, millions more Americans lived in poverty than in 1964. A 1996 Fordham University report says that the country's social well-being has reached its lowest point in a quarter century, with children and young people suffering the most.
An Individual Example
When Fay Coffman hit rock bottom in 1995, she relied on only $700 a month in government aid to support herself, her mother, and her three children. Coffman said, "I was on welfare, food stamps, lived in the projects, no car, no way to make ends meet. It was hard, and it was very, very depressing."
Today, thanks to her work at a self-help agency, Coffman and her family are doing well in their Missouri hometown. Coffman has her own home, a car and no longer worries about having enough food for her family.
Poverty's Effect on Children
Unfortunately, not all of America's poor have been so fortunate. According to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau in September 1996, 13.8% of Americans live in poverty. Many more are on the borderline. Poverty affects all ages, but an astonishing 48% percent of its victims are children:
About 15 million children -- one out of every four -- live below the official poverty line.
22% of Americans under the age of 18 -- and 25% under age 12 -- are hungry or at the risk of being hungry.
Everyday 2,660 children are born into poverty; 27 die because of it.
Children and families are the fastest growing group in the homeless population, representing 40%.
How the USA Stacks Up
Among the 21 most affluent nations, the United States has the highest percentage of poor children. In fact, our rate is twice that of the country next in line.
Furthermore, the September 1996 welfare reform bill cut $60 billion in aid to poor families within a period of six years. It is estimated that this will throw one million more children into poverty. Sadly, even though we are the richest industrialized nation, we are the stingiest with aid to our own children.
Prospects for Their Future
Too many young Americans go to bed with empty stomachs. They also wake up to seemingly hopeless futures: school problems, unemployment, welfare, gangs, drugs and crime. Children of poverty are more likely to suffer young and violent deaths.
Mentally and physically malnourished for the first five years of their lives, they are unable to keep up in class. One national study projects that almost a million children who will have started school in September 1996, will encounter serious problems. Many will drop out or finish high school functionally illiterate.
Hopeful Signs
Fortunately, some Americans care. Three out of every four voters agree that our political leaders are not doing enough to help solve the problems facing our children. Despite strong concern over our national debt, two-thirds of the American electorate believes that government programs for children should be the last to be cut. This willingness to help children extends to voters of all ages, races, and political and economic backgrounds.
There are other hopeful signs. Independent Sector, a national forum to encourage volunteerism, reported in 1996 that giving and volunteering in America is slowly rising. In 1995, 49% of American adults regularly did some form of volunteer work -- a total of 20.3 billion hours. Financial contributions also  increased more than 10% between 1993 and 1995.
Independent Sector has uncovered key factors that motivate people to contribute and volunteer. Simply being asked emerged as the number one incentive. The survey found that when asked to give, 85% of respondents oblige. Clearly, we Americans are willing to make a difference.
In Conclusion
Even a small amount of your time can make a big difference for a child. And society benefits, too. Crime rates decline, youngsters become better educated and then see their futures with more optimistic eyes. Says Eddie Ryeom, a volunteer with Operation Exodus:
"One of the major benefits of working with children is seeing tangible results, from their smiling faces to increased test scores. However small your contribution, you're helping a community deeply in need."
This testimonial and millions like it show that even one volunteer -- perhaps you -- can change a child's life now and for the future. With up to 15 million kids in need, every volunteer is an asset in our ongoing war on child poverty. From helping an individual child to addressing the issue nationwide, there are many choices (some are below) on how to help -- and find greater fulfillment for yourself, too.
Poverty in New York City
Domestic poverty knows no geographical barriers, but it is especially widespread here in New York City. The latest study, released in 1995 by the Citizens Committee for Children of New York, reveals that New York children fare worse in virtually every category than their counterparts at the state and national level. This includes low birth weight, infant mortality, violence-related deaths, abuse and neglect, education, and job preparedness.
Life for New York City children is getting worse:
25% of New Yorkers are children.
762,000 children live in poverty.
181 babies are born into poverty each day.
10,000 children are homeless. This number has doubled since 1988.
In addition to these sad statistics, many New York City children read and do math below grade level. An estimated 38.9% of the city's school children will graduate high school, compared to 68.8% of all American students.
Taking a Stand
On June 1, 1996, 250,000 people from all 50 states participated in the Stand for Children. In this non-partisan event, Americans of every race, age, and income group joined in songs, prayers, and commitments to help America's troubled youth.
Even the youngest participants understood the significance of the event. Seven-year-old Tracy said:
"Today was a good day because we could eat and drink and have a lot of fun. All of this happened so mommies and daddies will be able to take care of their children, like my Mommy takes care of me."
At the Stand for Children, people renewed their sense of responsibility for our nation's children. Rose Avello, associate director of the Citizens Committee for Children of New York, sums up the view of many child advocacy groups:
"The major success story is that more and more citizens care about children, not just their own. People are realizing that children are our future and that citizens have a responsibility to ensure that all children receive quality care."
As evidence, Avello cites the recent growth of her organization's postcard campaign. Originally starting with only 100 volunteers, this annual drive for funds and awareness now includes some 10,000 New Yorkers. Even young children send in their allowance to help.
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