WILKES-BARRE — A new study shows that more families in Luzerne County are struggling to make ends meet, with one in every four children living in poverty.
The United Way is trying to break the cycle by targeting some of the youngest residents in the Wyoming Valley.
Coloring with markers and building with blocks, many of the kids say they’re having a lot of fun at Luzerne County Head Start on Beekman Street in Wilkes-Barre.
5-year-old Adam’s favorite part of the day is his turn at the keyboard and mouse.
His grandfather Henry Heck has legal custody of Adam. Heck says he’s thankful for Head Start because he is struggling to make ends meet.
“You know when they come out of Head Start because they are so far advanced. And the teachers are fantastic here,” Heck said.
The United Way says that one of its recent studies is showing a troubling trend: nearly 29 percent of kids in the Wyoming Valley are living in poverty. The nonprofit says that statistic has doubled since 2000.
The federal government defines childhood poverty as a family of four living on an income of $23,492.
With some parents working two or three jobs, early education often falls by the wayside, and the United Way says it wants to help break the cycle of poverty in Luzerne County.
“Issues of crime and safety, government spending, workforce readiness, all of those things are impacted by issues of poverty,” said Bill Jones, the president of United Way of Wyoming Valley.
The United Way says it is hosting a seminar this coming Wednesday at Luzerne County Community College for families and even kids who want to get out of poverty.
Some kids like Adam have already set big goals at a young age.
“Do you know what you want to do when you grow up?”
“Be a cop!” Adam said.
Until then, Adam and his classmates will learn the letters before elementary school in the fall.