Some C.O. child poverty rates above average

Education seen as key to progress

CO childhood poverty rates

BEND, Ore. - According to a new study by the Oregon Community Foundation, childhood poverty rates across the state of Oregon have been on the rise since 2005.

The statewide average is 22 percent, and here in Central Oregon, Deschutes County is below that, at 19 percent.

But Jefferson County and Crook County's rates are above the statewide average. Crook County has a childhood poverty rate of 28 percent and Jefferson County's rate is 32 percent.

Caitlin Ruffenach of the Oregon Community Foundation said Monday the organization wants to see these numbers go down.

"In order to make some dents in the high childhood poverty rates, you have to make sure that the people who are affected by those problems are also leading and finding the solution," Ruffenach said.

Ruffenach added that education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty, and said one of the most important things is to provided kids with the opportunity to go to school, and hopefully college.

That's something NeighborImpact's Head Start Program provides with early childhood education for low-income families.

The childhood poverty numbers are not surprising for Charmaine Browning with the Head Start program.

"Yeah, I believe it. This is what we live every single day," Browning said. "And, really, there is no lack of qualified children to participate in our program, especially I think in Crook County."

She said she wants to provide children with the best opportunity to succeed, and she sees schooling as the pathway to that success.

"It might not show results today, it might not show results while they are in our program," Browning said. "We've had families come back five, 10 years later and said, 'Because of what you did for me in the Head Start program, I'm now a nurse, and my kids are graduating from high school.'"

Browning said she hopes that educational programs throughout Central Oregon will be able to lay the foundation of education that kids need to lead successful lives.

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