About 5,000 children are living in poverty in the Kootenays (Jordyn Thomson - Western News)

About 5,000 children are living in poverty in the Kootenays (Jordyn Thomson - Western News)

Lack of childcare main factor forcing 5,000 Kootenay kids into poverty: FirstCall BC

Pre-pandemic, 1 in 5 children were living in poverty and the numbers have likely increased

There are 5,140 impoverished children in the Kootenay region, largely because access to childcare services is more difficult to find in rural areas, according to FirstCall BC.

The child welfare organization’s report, Child and Family Poverty in Canada, estimates that prior to COVID-19, one-in-five children were living in poverty.

FirstCall is a child and youth advocacy coalition, making recommendations to ensure kids are cared for and living safely.

Implementing an affordable, quality childcare system is an easy way to reduce poverty levels, since without access to these resources, many parents are unable to work, the organization said.

READ MORE: Wealth tax could fund $20B in aid, childcare for 1.3M impoverished Canadian kids: report

Other recommendations in the report include: Paying a livable wage, removing barriers to post-secondary education and providing better supports for families who are raising children with special needs.

“The data in our report shows growing inequality between low and high income families across the province and within regions. Within the three Kootenay regional districts the child poverty rate ranges from 14 per cent in East Kootenay to 23 per cent in Central Kootenay,” said Adrienne Montani, FirstCall’s provincial coordinator.

In families with only one parent, one-in-two children are raised in poverty.

In Castlegar there are 320 babies, children and teenagers as olf as 17 living in poor conditions. Nelson has 660 youth living in poverty and Cranbrook has the highest amount of 840.

The full report can be found here.


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