What Does Poverty Mean to Children?

BY News Desk  November 13, 2012 at 11:51 AM EDT

Watch Poor Kids Preview on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Child poverty has reached record levels with over 16 million children affected. 1 in 13 Americans are jobless, and many children are growing up with little hope for their future.

“I was surprised by how things can change so fast,” says 14-year-old Roger, one of the children profiled in the film. “You can go from doing okay, not having to go hungry, to this: going hungry and having to pay all your bills and not being able to [buy food], on the verge of being homeless again.”

In Poor Kids, which premieres next Tuesday on PBS, Frontline spent months following six children who are growing up against the backdrop of their families’ struggles against financial ruin. Filmmaker Jezza Neuman traveled to the Quad Cities, a great American crossroads along the border of Iowa and Illinois, to explore the lives of children living in the suburbs of the nation’s heartland. We asked the children what being poor in America really looks like through their eyes.

On Tuesday, Frontline hosted a conversation at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. to explore what is being done to alleviate child poverty — and how we can address this urgent national issue. You can watch the discussion below:


Recorded Nov. 13, 2012

Speakers included filmmaker Jezza Neumann; Anne Mosle, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Ascend Program; Elizabeth Kneebone of the Brookings Institution; and Renee Wilson-Simmons, director of the National Center for Children in Poverty. The conversation was moderated by PBS NewsHour correspondent Hari Sreenivasan.

This event is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

RELATED: What Can Children Tell Us About Growing Up Poor? Q&A with ‘Poor Kids’ Director

Editor’s note: This post is cross-posted from Frontline. (Updated with recap video on Nov. 14)


American Graduate is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities across America find solutions to the dropout crisis.