More than a quarter of kids in Monroe County and half of the children in the city of Rochester are living in poverty. That circumstance can have a profound effect on thier futures, "kids don't have the essential things that they need to grow and develop and learn," explains Dr. Jeff Kaczorowski, M.D., of The Children's Agenda. The Children's Agenda a local organization dedicated to solving the problems children face, like poverty.
With low graduation rates at city high schools, and high infant mortality rates in the county, a solution is needed, "we can help parents, we can help working families," explains Dr. Kaczorowski, "we can support families better, kids can't lift themselves out of poverty without help."
The Boys and Girls Club on Genessee Street is offering that support for children in what program leaders call one of the poorest areas in the city. It offers a safe environment and help with school work, among other services, "when you get into talking to them and get into their background they talk about where, you know, I know one of the kids he doesn't eat as regular as he should so we try to help out there too," explains Boys and Girls Club Youth Advocate Amy Brito.
For 15 year old Keyanna Foster, who was a runaway before enrolling in the re-entry program, the club is life changing. She says she doesn't know where she'd be without it, "probably in the streets. I don't know. I wouldn't be in school, I know that. I missed a whole year of school so it's helping me with that, too," Foster explains.
Community advocates say in order to pull kids out of poverty, parents need help too, "we could have the earned income tax credit, we could support working parents by making child care more affordable for them, we could make sure that families have access to medical insurance and have access to healthy foods to help alleviate this problem," says Dr. Kaczorowski.
Community leaders also say more, "home grown," jobs could also help solve the problem. Those are jobs like cleaning and landscaping that don't require a high skill level.
To view the U.S. Census Bureau Report click here.
To learn more about the Children's Agenda and view their information on children poverty in Rochester click here.