Fighting Poverty in Mississippi
Many families in Mississippi, one of the states where
ChildFund works, live below the poverty line, presenting obstacles to children
achieving happy and fulfilling lives. In 2013, the federal
poverty level for a family of five is a yearly income of $27,570. As of
January 2011, about 31
percent of the children living in Mississippi were considered poor, and
included in that number were 14 percent living in extreme poverty, according to
the Children's Defense Fund. This means Mississippi has the highest child
poverty rate in the nation.
By living in these
conditions, children are more likely to face other challenges throughout their
lives, such as neglect and abuse, as well as insufficient access to the
education they need to succeed.
Child Neglect and Abuse
Although there are many
factors that can contribute to child abuse and neglect, the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services notes that many researchers feel there
is a correlation between poverty and child mistreatment. Mississippi has
historically seen both high poverty and child abuse rates.
In 2011, the Children's
Defense Fund reported that 7,883 Mississippi children were victims of abuse or
neglect, which works out to a case of abuse or neglect every hour. Some children
in Mississippi are unable to live with their biological parents for a variety of
reasons. In 2011, about 3,320 children were in foster care, and about 50,130
grandparents across the state raised their grandchildren.
Children who are raised
in poverty are also statistically less likely to finish high school than their
peers, frequently because they are forced to get a full-time job, or they lack
crucial support from their families. In Mississippi, about 64 percent of
freshmen in high school will graduate, according to the Children's Defense
And even students who
graduate may not attain the skills they need to succeed in college or the work
force. In the fourth grade, 78 percent of students in the state are unable to
read or do math at grade level. By the eighth grade, 81 percent of students
cannot read at grade level, while 85 percent lack the appropriate math skills,
the Children's Defense Fund reports.
A Helping Hand
ChildFund is working in
Mississippi to fight child poverty and ensure that children in need have the
opportunity to live healthy and happy lives. Last year, we helped equip the North
Delta Youth Development Center in Lambert, Mississippi, with new books,
educational tools and Internet access, giving local children a safe place to
learn and play. We also helped the center create a local Parent Education and
By providing Mississippi
residents with this type of support, we have helped them escape poverty and move
on to do amazing things. For example, Shauntay Hinton, 2002's Miss USA and an
actress featured on shows like "Heroes" and "Criminal Minds," was once a
sponsored child in ChildFund's Mississippi programs.
If you would like to
help children like Shauntay live out their dreams, consider sponsoring
a child in the U.S. For just $35 per month, you can help a child in your own
backyard receive access to the education, health care and support services they
need to succeed.