WACO, TX — Children are our future and their well-being is vital to their roles in the community. United Way Waco-McLennan County conducted a Child Well-Being report to support the improvement of life for children and families in the area.
The year-long study found that a third of children live in poverty, looking between the ages of 0-5.
"We’re at 29% of children under the age of 5 who are living in poverty," said Tiffani Johnson, Senior Director of Impact and Engagement.
Looking at those at a young age, Johnson says it's important to enhance their quality of life at an early age and you have to help the entire community to help them.
"We know that we ensure that resources are getting to communities that really could use them and that we are providing greater resources to those areas we will see greater outcomes," Johnson said.
There are many organizations working to fight for our children, one of them being Caritas, a non-profit food pantry that gives pounds of food to families daily.
"One in four kids have the potential of going to bed hungry tonight," said Alicia Jallah, Co-Executive Director.
20% of their clientele are children, with the pandemic, it's made finding food for families even harder. Their numbers have gone down since the height of the pandemic but there are still many in need.
"All of the food is going out to meet that need who are having a hard time right now with our families," Jallah said.
Texas is near the bottom of the list, at number 43 when it comes to overall child well-being. The state's even worse in regards to family and community well-being ranked 47th.
The United Way is working to improve those rankings in a few different ways. That includes; engaging the community, focusing on equity and intersectionality, emphasizing a two-generation approach to support families and being more intentional about cross-sector community involvement.
Johnson says it's about listening to those in need, hearing their stories and trying to make a change.
"When we better understand what the experience is we can understand also what the community's aspiration is for change and that's where we want to go," Johnson said.