Recovery slow to ease child poverty in Nevada - 8 News NOW

Recovery slow to ease child poverty in Nevada

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LAS VEGAS -- The number of children living in poverty in Nevada climbed 8.4 percentage points during the economic downturn and remained above the national average in 2012.

That was one of the findings of the Nevada KIDS COUNT 2013 Data Book that was released Wednesday by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The center's director, Stephen Brown, says the poverty statistic points to an uneven recovery that hadn't reached into some demographic sectors in 2012. He said a broader-based recovery in 2013 might help reduce the figure in next year's report.

The report also suggests kids with unstable homes are more likely to become a teen parent and less likely to graduate high school.

There are a lot of teenagers working through the hardships of living in poverty to fight for a better future.

One of them is 18-year-old Quinton Vaana. Vanna is a volunteer for Project 150, a local group that provides resources for homeless teens so they can stay in school and graduate.

"There are a lot of people out there, a lot of kids who don't have food." Vaana said.

Vaana says he can relate because at one time he was one of those kids.

"Never staying in one house for more than six months, not having a place to sleep, I usually lay down on the floor and stuff," Vaana said.

Brown says even though the recession is behind us, not everyone has benefited from the economic recovery. He says those lacking higher education are not bouncing back as fast and that affects the well-being of their entire family.

"These things will make it harder for kids in those families to graduate from high school and become productive adults," Brown said.

For Vaana, poverty is what is pushing him harder to succeed.

"It is life, you either learn from it, or you break it down," Vaana said.

This fall he is heading to a university in Utah on academic scholarship to study criminal justice.

"I am grateful for what I have. It might not be a lot but it is something. I am blessed beyond blessed," Vaana said.

There are also bright spots in this latest KIDS COUNT study, including a dropout rate that decreased from 4.1 percent in the 2010-2011 school year to 3.9 percent in 2011-2012. The teen birthrate also fell.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story)
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