TIME poverty

Southwest, South Score Low on Child Welfare Index

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) — Several states in the Deep South and Southwest have earned dismal scores on an annual child welfare index that cited poverty and single-parent house households as worrisome trends that must be turned around for things to improve.

Mississippi rated as the worst state for overall child well-being, largely because of rising child poverty. It was the second time in three years the state has come in last in rankings complied in the Kids Count Data Book.

New Mexico, Nevada, Louisiana and Arizona comprise the remaining bottom five states.

The study released Tuesday marks the 25th edition of the child well-being scorecard from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a child advocacy group.

It ranks states based on 16 indicators of child welfare in areas of economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

The good news, the foundation’s report indicated, is that nationally there has been steady improvement in the number of children attending preschool and a decline in the number of kids who aren’t proficient in reading and math.

Additionally, the national teen birth rate is at a historic low, and death rates for children and teens have fallen thanks to medical advances and the increased use of seat belts, car seats and bike helmets, according to the report.

However, the growing number children growing up in poor communities and increased percentage of children in single-parent households are causes for concern, the foundation said.

“We should all be encouraged by the improvements in many well-being indicators in the health, education and safety areas,” said Patrick McCarthy, the foundation’s president and CEO said in a news release.

“But we must do much more. All of us, in every sector — business, government, nonprofits, faith-based groups, families — need to continue to work together to ensure that all children have the chance to succeed,” he stated.

With a large number of impoverished children, New Mexico finished second-worst this year. It was a slight improvement from the 2013 index, when the state finished last, prompted by improvements in child poverty, high school graduation and teenage birth rates.

“It’s a tiny step forward, but only if we can keep up the positive momentum of change,” said Veronica García, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, a child advocacy group affiliated with Kids Count.

She said the state’s perennially low scores show, “we need to do better by our children — much, much better.”

Nevada came in at 48th, mostly because of the number of children living in poverty.

Louisiana finished 47th despite a number of across-the board improvements, the report said.

Arizona completed the bottom-tier as its rate of children living in poverty has increased in 10 of the state’s 15 counties. Also, support for programs to help these children dropped significantly, the report said.

TIME poverty

Here Are the 5 Worst States for a Child’s Well-Being

Children try to do their homework at an evacuation shelter in a high school gymnasium in Kentwood, Louisiana on August 30, 2012.
Children try to do their homework at an evacuation shelter in a high school gymnasium in Kentwood, Louisiana on August 30, 2012. Frederic J. Brown—AFP/Getty Images

Child poverty rates are rising, but some states are better than others when it comes to kids' overall well-being

A new annual report on kids’ well-being finds that child poverty rates are rising across the country, with nearly a quarter of American children living in families below the poverty line.

The KIDS COUNT Data Book released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that poverty rates had dropped from 1990 to 2000, but began increasing again in the early 2000s. Data shows their health and education are improving, with teen birthrates and death rates at all-time lows and more children showing proficiency in reading and math.

But with families still recovering from the recession and fewer resources available from government programs like Medicaid—as well as higher housing and transportation costs—the report finds that kids are growing up in poor households that are having trouble escaping poverty.

Northern states tend to rank better than ones in the South for kids in terms of economic status, education, health and family and community, which the authors of the study attribute to smart investments in children’s health and educational programs. Here are the five states that rank the highest and lowest for kids’ overall well-being:

Lowest

50. Mississippi

49. New Mexico

48. Nevada

47. Louisiana

46. Arizona

Highest

1. Massachusetts

2. Vermont

3. Iowa

4. New Hampshire

5. Minnesota

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: July 17

1. Israel and Hamas have not only made do with each other’s existence, they have tried to figure out how to derive the maximum benefit from one another.

By Aaron David Miller in Foreign Policy

2. The current immigration crisis — and larger questions about reform — mean immigration is far from a political slam-dunk for the left.

By Nathan Pippinger in Democracy

3. What if Egypt isn’t ready for democracy?

By Sarah Eltantawi in the Immanent Frame

4. Affirmative Action should be adapted to accommodate structural racism and America’s modern segregation.

By Sheryll Cashin in the Root

5. Marriage isn’t the answer to poverty and focusing on single moms obscures the real problems.

By Carter Price in the New Republic

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

MONEY

What Six Californias Would Really Look Like

Under a tech mogul's proposed breakup plan, some "states" are more equal than others.

Tim Draper, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist behind companies like Tesla and Skype, has a crazy idea. In order to make California more responsive to the needs of local communities, it should be broken up into six separate states: South California; Central California; North California; West California; Silicon Valley; and Jefferson.

This concept might seem more fit for a speculative novel than reality, but Draper’s dream may actually get its moment in the sun. On Tuesday, he informed USA Today that his Six Calfornias campaign had received 1.3 million signatures—far more than the roughly 808,000 required for the initiative to appear on the 2016 ballot.

Draper’s proposal still has virtually zero chance of ever happening. Even if the ballot initiative is approved (a December Field Poll showed only a quarter of residents support it), a California breakup would require the approval of Congress. And it is all but impossible to imagine a GOP-dominated House ever approving a plan that could potentially create 10 new Democratic senators.

That said, the venture capital mogul has apparently captured the imagination of many Californians who yearn for a more representative and responsive government than the one in Sacramento. In that light, it’s worth examining what six new Californias would really look like.

The major flaw in Draper’s plan is that the six new states he has outlined are not economically equal. In fact, they’re so unequal that many have wondered if the whole concept isn’t just a techno-libertarian plot to free Silicon Valley from having to share its wealth.

Under the breakup plan, some new “states” would be getting a pretty good deal. Others, well, not so much. Here’s a breakdown of each region and how it compares on various economic metrics. (All state comparisons are relative to the current United States.)

The common theme: Things look pretty darn good for Silicon Valley and West California (which includes Los Angeles), at the expense of making Jefferson and Central California two of the poorest states in the union.

Major Cities

Silicon Valley: San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose

North California: Sacramento, Santa Rosa

West California: Los Angeles, Santa Barbara

South California: San Diego, Anaheim

Central California: Fresno, Bakersfield

Jefferson: Redding, Chico

Population

West California: 11.5 million (8th in the U.S., similar to Ohio)

South California: 10.8 million (8th in the U.S., similar to Georgia)

Silicon Valley: 6.8 million (14th in the U.S., similar to Massachusetts)

Central California: 4.2 million (27th in the U.S., similar to Kentucky)

North California: 3.8 million (29th in the U.S., similar to Oklahoma)

Jefferson: 949,000 (45th in U.S., similar to Montana)

Personal Income Per Capita

Silicon Valley: $63,288 (1st in U.S., similar to Connecticut)

North California: $48,048 (7th in U.S., similar to Wyoming)

West California: $44,900 (15th in the U.S., similar to Illinois)

South California: $42,980 (21th in the U.S., similar to Vermont)

Jefferson: $36,147 (40th in the U.S., similar to Arizona)

Central California: $33,510 (50th in the US, similar to Idaho)

Percentage Living in Poverty

Silicon Valley: 12.8% (35th highest U.S., similar to Colorado)

North California: 13.7% (28th highest in U.S., similar to Illinois)

West California: 15.2% (21st highest in U.S., similar to California)

South California: 17.8% (7th highest in U.S., similar to West Virginia)

Central California: 19.9% (2nd highest in U.S, similar to New Mexico)

Jefferson: 20.8% (2nd highest in U.S., similar to New Mexico)

Median Home Price in Largest City

Silicon Valley (San Jose): $708,500

West California (Los Angeles): $520,500

South California (San Diego): $494,500

North California (Sacramento): $247,400

Jefferson (Redding): $207,600

Central California (Fresno): $165,000

Number of State Universities

West California: 9

Silicon Valley: 7

South California: 7

North California: 4

Central California: 4

Jefferson: 2

Sources: Zillow.com, U.S. Department of Commerce, United States Census Bureau, Huffington Post, California Legislative Analyst’s Office, 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

TIME India

India Is Home to More Poor People Than Anywhere Else on Earth

Poverty of slums at New Delhi
Slum dwellers lead their life in poverty and unhealthy conditions in New Delhi, India on March 10, 2014. Anadolu Agency—Getty Images

"We don't have to be proud of what we've done," one minister says

One third of the world’s 1.2 billion poorest people live in India, according to the latest Millennium Development Goals report by the U.N.

India only managed to reduce its poverty rate (the ratio of the number of people who fall below the poverty line and a country’s total population) from 49.4% in 1994 to 42% in 2005 and 32.7% in 2010. By contrast, regional rival China brought it down from 60% in 1990 to an impressive 16% in 2005 and just 12% in 2010.

India also accounted for the highest number of under-five deaths in the world in 2012, with 1.4 million children not reaching their fifth birthday.

“We don’t have to be proud of what we’ve done,” admitted minority affairs minister Najma Heptulla to the Times Of India on Wednesday. “Poverty is the biggest challenge.”

TIME Honduras

Desperate Journey: Crime and Poverty Drive Honduran Kids to U.S.

Mary Murray—NBC News

In a crowded, run-down emergency room in San Pedro Sula, the reason why so many children are fleeing Honduras for the dangerous trek to the U.S. is easy to find.

A 17-year-old boy lies in a coma on a gurney. He has been shot in the head — yet another victim of the unrelenting violence that has turned this Central American country into the murder capital of the world.

A pediatrician who works in the Hospital Nacional emergency room says he’s had to become an expert at repairing the damage bullets do to children.

Read More at NBC News.

TIME poverty

U.S. Census Bureau Shows More People Living in Areas of Poverty

A man covers himself as he crosses a street under a snowfall in Washington, D.C. on March 25. 2014.
A man covers himself as he crosses a street under a snowfall in Washington, D.C. on March 25, 2014. Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images

Researchers find living in poor neighborhoods adds burdens to low-income families

A U.S. Census Bureau report released on Monday reveals that the proportion of people living in areas of poverty increased by 7.7 percentage points from 2000 to 2010. Latest figures collected by the American Community Survey from 2008 to 2012 showed that 1 in 4 U.S. residents lived in areas with a poverty rate of at least 20%.

The report, Changes in Areas With Concentrated Poverty: 2000 to 2010, compares new data with that collected in the 2000 Census Bureau to track income changes throughout the country. According to latest figures, 30% of the population lived in areas of poverty in the District of Columbia and 14 states — an increase from only four states and the District of Columbia in 2000. States that had experienced the greatest increase included Tennessee, Oregon, Arkansas and North Carolina.

Data also showed that the entire country was affected by the increase in poverty, regardless of race. Although the report indicated that minorities and households headed by single mothers were at the greatest risk of living in poverty, whites living in poor areas had the greatest proportional increase — from 11.3% in 2000 to 20.3% in 2008 to 2012.

The report’s lead author, Alemayehu Bishaw of the Census Bureau’s Poverty Statistics Branch, said in a statement that federal and government agencies would be able to use the data to provide assistance to those in need. “Researchers have found that living in poor neighborhoods adds burdens to low-income families, such as poor housing conditions and fewer job opportunities,” he said.

Despite the general rise throughout the country, the report found that the proportion of people living in poverty areas in West Virginia, Alaska, Louisiana, the District of Columbia and Hawaii actually decreased by at least 0.4 percentage points over the same period.

TIME poverty

Meet the Chinese Philanthropist Who Just Disappointed a Lot of New Yorkers

Chen Guangbiao
Recycling magnate Chen Guangbiao sings to the media and his guests from the New York City Rescue Mission at The Loeb Boathouse restaurant in New York, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. The Chinese tycoon known for his sometimes eccentric gestures served up a fancy lunch Wednesday to hundreds of homeless New Yorkers at a Central Park restaurant and serenaded them with "We are the World." Chen said he wants to disprove the cliche image of rich Chinese spending money mostly on luxuries. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) Seth Wenig—ASSOCIATED PRESS

Philanthropist or attention hog?

Chinese philanthropist Chen Guangbiao’s much-hyped posh luncheon for some of New York City’s homeless was overshadowed by an unmet promise to distribute $300 to each of the diners.

But Chen appeared unfazed, telling the New York Times that he’s taking his philanthropy to Africa next. The self-made recycling tycoon worth an estimated $740 million has already become something of a household name in China, where he’s used his money—and his theatrics—to grab headlines and push his causes.

Chen, who grew up in a poor rural household and says two of his siblings died of hunger, has cultivated a reputation for the eccentric, and he’s far from bashful about his exploits: His business card reads “Most Influential Person of China.” He’s known for handing out cash to unsuspecting passersby, an antic he brought to the streets of New York City ahead of the luncheon.

https://twitter.com/connortryan/status/481771238952828928/photo/1

He’s also used his theatrics to raise awareness about issues like pollution in China’s cities. Last year he distributed cans of fresh air with a variety of flavors—there were the options of “pristine Tibet” and “post-industrial Taiwan,” among others. That followed his public smashing of his old, gas-guzzling Mercedes and his handout of thousands of bikes. In a call for China’s wealth to join him in his philanthropy, Chen constructed a wall of cash for a photo-op.

He’s also played in geopolitics. In 2012, he took out an ad in the New York Times declaring that the disputed Diaoyu Islands are Chinese and not Japanese territory. And then a year later, he announced that he planned to buy the New York Times, even as the owner said it wasn’t for sale. If not the Times, Chen said at the time, then he’d try for CNN or the Wall Street Journal.

“As long as they have some influence, I’m still willing to consider buying lesser media outlets,” he said at the time.

TIME poverty

USAID Wants To Save 15 Million Kids by 2020

USAID’s mission has long been to help countries around the globe keep kids and families healthy. Now the agency’s plan is more targeted than ever before.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has a lofty goal for the next five years: save the lives of 15 million kids and 600,000 mothers, many of whom die shortly after birth, by 2020.

This year alone, more than 6 million children under age five will die shortly after birth from preventable diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea. Over 70% of those deaths will occur in just 24 countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia and South Sudan, among others. Thus, USAID’s new plan, unveiled Wednesday, focuses its aid efforts in those 24 countries.

“We’ve made this whole effort an effort to focus the world’s attention and resources and capacity to save lives of the poorest kids in country after country,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah told TIME.

USAID’s new plan includes working in partnership with host countries, non-governmental and faith based organizations. Each of its proposed actions is grounded in data and tailored to the needs of individual countries.

Carolyn Miles, president of international charity organization Save the Children, says one way to help many communities is to increase the number of health care professionals available in remote areas. She says that in many countries and communities, residents’ nearest health clinics are miles away from their village, or the working doctor shows up once once a month.

“We work with governments, we work with local partners and look at why kids are dying—a lot of times they do not have access to basic health care,” Miles says.

Her organization, along with other USAID partners like UNICEF, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and World Vision, are pledging to train 500,000 community health workers in the 24 target countries over the next several years.

“These are local women who live in the communities, generally with pretty low education, but those women can learn how to do the basics,” Miles says.

Community health workers can end up doing anything from counseling pregnant moms to treating pneumonia with basic antibiotics. In Ethiopia, for example, USAID says the child death rate has fallen 27% since 2012 thanks in part to 35,000 community health workers who provide basic health services and medication to rural Ethiopians. In Bangladesh, tools including NeoNatalie, a doll that teaches health workers how to resuscitate babies who can’t breathe at birth, have helped reduce the child mortality rate by 72% between 1990 and 2012.

For USAID’s Rajiv Shah, the work his agency does goes beyond simply delivering food or medical aid.

“Saving the world’s poor children from dying from simple diseases is genuinely the morally right thing to do, but it is also critical to our national security,” says Shah. “We know that countries are more stable and grow faster when rates of child death go down and countries invest more in educating children. That’s the driving motivation for our work.”

 

 

TIME poverty

Greater Unemployment Benefits Can Reduce the Suicide Rate

Job Seekers Look For Work At Career Fair In Detroit
People seeking employment attend a job fair at the Matrix Center, April 23, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. Joshua Lott—Getty Images

Paying out bigger benefits in lean times is literally a lifesaver for the jobless

A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology finds that greater unemployment benefits can decrease the rate of suicides.

The research team, led by Jon Cylus at the London School of Economics, acknowledged that suicide was caused by a variety of factors, but determined that income loss and loneliness predicated by unemployment were key.

The 2008 financial crisis suggested a correlation between suicides and the availability of employment — with the suicide rate in North America and Europe increasing by an estimated 10,000 people per year from 2007 to 2010, compared with prior years. When Cylus and his team examined the allocation of unemployment benefits from 1968 to 2008, however, they found that greater cash assistance reduced the burdens caused by joblessness.

Although suicide is the most severe outcome of unemployment, financial distress can also lead to mental and health issues — which the team also noted could be mitigated by improved benefits.

The study concluded that more financial assistance at times of need could save lives. “If the unemployment rate increases, having better benefits is going to buffer the effect,” Cylus told HuffPost.

[HuffPost]

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser