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Poverty Among Children In Massachusetts

Report Shows Head Start And School Lunch Programs Help Reduce Poverty Among Massachusetts Children

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Devora Trapp, 24, picks up her 8-month-old son, Dardarius Taylor, late one evening at the Opportunity House's Second Street Learning Center, a 24-hour day care center for low-income families in Reading, Pa.
Kainaz Amaria
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Poverty Among Children In Massachusetts

A new report says that while public programs such as food stamps and Head Start help many families make ends meet, one in three children in Massachusetts are living in poverty.

The 75-page report, commissioned by the Massachusetts Association for Community Action (MASSCAP), was released by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center on Wednesday. It outlines the many obstacles facing families around the state.

In some places in western Massachusetts, including in Holyoke and Pitssfield, the biggest obstacles for children and their families are lack of opportunity and low wages, according to MASSCAP's Joe Diamond.

"We found that there is a myth that says people aren't trying," says Diamond, "and that's why they're poor. That's completely wrong. ... We need to be able to make work pay — we need to make the economy work for everyone."

The report shows significant economic disparities among children, based on where they live, and based on race. Nearly 50 percent of children living in Springfield are below the poverty line. In Boston and Worcester that rate is 30 percent, with African-American and Latino children faring much worse than white children.

The report details how public programs, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, help those living in poverty, but it's not enough.

Diamond says federal budget cuts will eliminate or reduce many of the programs that he says are effective at keeping families from falling below the poverty line.

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