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Group gathers to focus on childhood poverty

Posted at 7:44 AM, Sep 03, 2021

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Some of the city's leaders in government, business and nonprofit came together Thursday afternoon to discuss the effect that poverty is having on the children of Omaha.

Community leaders have heard firsthand the impact that childhood poverty has on those who have come out the other side.

Paul Feilmann, a retired mental health professional, assembled the group to listen to these stories and get an idea of the scope of the problem.

Data collected by Voices for Children shows in Omaha nearly 20% of children are growing up below the federal poverty line. 59% of those kids have parents without a stable income, 23% are food insecure and only one out of every five has affordable housing.

Though they’ve taken steps to overcome poverty, the trauma and hardships of childhood poverty still linger for these adults.

Kimara Snipes an Omaha Public Schools board member and the president of the South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance shared her story and how she's still working to overcome these barriers.

“Growing up in poverty is harmful, it's damaging and it is debilitating," Snipes said.

Beyond struggling to meet their needs, half of the impoverished children in Omaha, Lincoln, and Grand Island, have had at least two adverse childhood experiences - traumas that have been linked to negative social, mental and physical health.

Alfonso Vaca-Loyola, research coordinate for Voices for Children, shared some data about how these disparities impact even life spans.

“If you were born in a census tract in North Omaha, you’re likely to live around 67 years," Vaca-Loyola said. "Which is 20 years lower than somebody living in West Central Omaha.”

The group is brainstorming how they can better come together to address these inequalities and make sure children in Omaha are getting what they need.

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