♪ ♪ >> People don't realize what they have until it's gone.
>> NARRATOR: Tonight on "Frontline"... >> We lost our whole house and everything.
>> NARRATOR: Growing up poor.
>> And we're going to start with numbers one through 20.
>> I think there's a lot of people in America that need help with food.
>> NARRATOR: Through the eyes of children.
>> Sometimes when I watch people who, like, walk into their house when we're driving, I wish that sometimes, like, I had a house like those people.
>> NARRATOR: We first met them five years ago.
>> If I could change anything, it would be being poor.
I'm Kaylie, and I'm 15.
>> NARRATOR: Now we catch up with them as teenagers, and see the America they're growing up in today.
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> My name is Brittany Smith, and I'm nine years old.
It's tough because my mom and dad are poor.
My dad just lost his job.
Come here, boy!
Monday I tried getting in the shower, and it was cold.
I put the hot on all the way and no cold, and it was freezing.
It felt like shoving your face in a bunch of snow.
It was freezing!
The hot water shut off because we didn't pay the bill in time.
It was overdue.
>> So what's the next bill due?
It's going to be $318.
We just need to put Roger's ass to work.
>> When you see the flat-screen TV and the computers and our PS3 and stuff, that's just things we've acquired over the years, stuff that we've had before all this happened, like when we were not this poor.
>> Sink's broke.
(laughs) I don't know how or why, but it broke.
And the cheapest plumber is, like, $65 an hour.
I can't even afford $20.
>> We lived in a farmhouse.
My dad lost his job from Picture Perfect.
He got laid off, and we got kicked out of there.
We moved here.
It's not very big.
We didn't have enough room, so we had to put stuff in storage, and we lost it all because we couldn't pay it.
>> How storage works is, like, you put all your stuff in there when you move, but you have to pay the bill or else it gets thrown out in the street, because they have a spare key.
I don't think it's right, because people shouldn't throw other people's stuff in the street, because that's just plain up rude.
I got a big make-up thing, and I lost it in storage.
I got a Bratz doll, I lost it in storage.
I lost my favorite teddy bear.
I lost my DS.
It was great, it was awesome.
I'm bummed out because, like, that was my favorite thing in the world besides my family.
(laughs) >> Yeah, caliper's shot.
Got to get new pistons, at least, on it.
>> My dad's brakes on the truck isn't working.
One time we almost got in a wreck.
It sounded like nails on a chalkboard.
I hate that sound.
When is the cable being shut off?
We owe them almost $200.
The cable, the internet, all that, we don't have the money to pay it.
>> What are you doing?
>> Applying for a job.
>> Have you applied to many places?
>> This'll be the third Menard's store I've applied at.
Walmart, the anchor place, quite a few.
>> I hope that my dad will somehow miracle-y get his truck working and get a good job and so we'll be able to get money to keep this house, hopefully, and not get kicked out.
♪ ♪ >> My name is Kaylie Hegwood, and I live in Stockton, Iowa.
That one was good, that one was good!
And I am ten years old, and I live with my mother and my brother, Tyler, and he is 12 years old.
I don't think we're a rich family, but I think, like, we're kind of a poor family.
>> (laughing): I knew you were going to say that as soon as you... You're going to have to wait, sis.
>> I'm just starving.
We don't get the three meals a day, like breakfast, lunch, and then dinner.
When I feel just, like, hungry, I just, like, feel like I'm so, like, sad and all droopy, and then I'll begin to feel, like, weak, and then some in the mornings I'll be, like, so starving, but then I'll be, like, "I need some food!"
But then, like, I'll get, like... but then I don't think of food and then I'll just think of something else and then I'll not be hungry anymore.
>> There's good days and bad days.
Sometimes when we have cereal, we don't have milk.
We have to eat it dry.
Sometimes we don't have cereal and we have milk.
It's often, like, switch and swap.
Sometimes, like, when I switch the channel and there's a cooking show on, I get a little more hungry, and I want to vanish into the screen and start eating the food.
>> You can't pull at Mom when I'm doing this.
>> Stop pulling.
>> I'm sorry.
>> How do you think you have customers?
>> (laughing): Customers.
>> I don't want you to freakin' cut me.
>> I'm not gonna cut you.
>> You better not.
>> I've been in school long enough, I won't cut you.
>> Or you're dead.
I mean it.
My mom, she has very little in her bank.
And, like, she can't pay all of her bills at the same time.
>> My income is $480... or $1,480, and the total of my bills is $1,326, and that does not leave me money for food or gas.
I've never seen it this bad.
>> My best friend is Jordan, and we grew up together.
We like to go canning to make money.
With canning, I just walk around, look for cans, and I walk, like, around the whole town.
The non-squished ones are five cents.
>> And the squished are two cents.
Some people come over here for gas, and it's not here anymore.
The dance hall, that's broken.
Train station, that's still up, but it's all rotted and stuff.
I'll do it nice and slow for you.
Oh, another crushed can!
>> In 2004 is when this shut down.
>> And now look at it.
It used to be so... special.
Didn't that use to be a movie theater?
>> What did it use to be?
>> It was the old bank.
I bet there's old money in there.
>> I'm not going in there.
The floor fell in.
>> Well, that would be awesome if there was, like, thousands and thousands of dollars.
Those are ours!
>> Drop 'em!
>> When we can't afford to pay our bills, like our house bills and stuff, I'm afraid, like, we'll get homeless.
Me and my brother will starve.
You never know what'll happen in your life.
♪ ♪ (train rumbling) (kids chattering) >> My name is Jasmine, and I am nine years old, and I live with my brothers Joshua, Jaylen, and Jonny.
>> My name is Jonny Davis.
I'm 13 years old, going to be 14 in three months.
We are in the Salvation Army homeless shelter.
My dad had got a business, and he was making about a good $5,000 a month.
We had good and fancy things then.
We had, like, a three-bedroom house.
Our living room had a 32-inch flat-screen TV in there.
My mom's and dad's room had a 42-inch flat-screen TV in their room.
And that's what TV we watched the Super Bowl on.
>> (screaming playfully) >> Those are eggs.
Are you serious?
>> Why would you bring that out here?
>> When it was good, it was good.
I can remember having five or six jobs a month that were lined up back to back, and I mean decent paying jobs-- $4,000, $5,000, $7,000, whatever it was.
And all of a sudden, just right about the time when everybody was saying, you know, "The recession is coming about, the recession is coming about," people just plain old stopped fixing on their houses, stopped making repairs.
>> The payment on the house was due in two weeks, and I guess my parents just didn't have the money at the time, because he was explaining to us business was slow.
And we lost our whole house and everything.
So we're just back to ground zero.
Then we moved to a homeless shelter.
Anything that can fit in a book bag or a suitcase, you can take it.
Whatever you... like this TV, the yellow one in the living room, that only made it because it could fit in my bag.
If it couldn't fit in my bag, that would've been left behind, too.
>> We have to go.
Hurry up, and let's go.
>> Hurry, hurry, hurry.
My dad works at a factory, and we drive him there every day.
>> In, in, in, in, in.
>> Assigned seats, assigned seats, let's go.
>> The journey takes about two hours there and back.
We have to go with our mom because the rules say that we couldn't be left in the shelter by ourself because we weren't old enough.
>> I thank God that he still has a chance and an ability to still go out and get different jobs.
>> It's not a career, something that I want to spend the rest of my working years doing, but it's something that will provide for us to have some food.
>> ♪ ...road again... ♪ Always driving, always.
>> I know this is tough, driving out here every day, there and back, there and back, there and back, there and back.
It'd be so much easier if you could go ahead and just grab us a place out here so you don't have to make the trip back and forth.
I look at that little house every time I ride past.
That's a nice one there.
>> Sometimes when I watch people who, like, walk into their house when we're driving, I wish that sometimes, like, I had a house like those people.
>> Is it me or does it seem like it gets further away every day?
♪ ♪ (traffic passing) (train horn blaring) ♪ ♪ >> Kaylie, what are you looking at?
>> It's loud.
♪ ♪ >> I would just like to go explore the world.
But I'm never going to be able to do this, because these days everything is expensive.
I watched one show where it said they're raising the gas prices, and my mom can't even afford gas.
We have to be careful how we use our gas, how we use everything.
>> A lot of times I have to give my money up to buy groceries and buy gas for the car and lawnmower.
(lawnmower stops) >> (giggles) >> For mowing other people's lawns and...
I got ten dollars, and I put in six of it for the gas and gave the rest to my mom for some food and...
It's kind of what I do with my money.
I don't think I'm going to do mowing for a living.
(barking) >> The bills here at the house is just too much for me to handle.
And I seen a doctor last week for depression, and she put me on some antidepressants and Xanax for my panic attacks.
Right now there doesn't seem to be a way out.
So my only options are to give up my house and move my stuff into storage and move into the motel room.
>> I mean, I don't even know if I can find a job when I get out of school.
Or if it'll ever get any better.
>> Grace, come here!
>> (sniffling) (dog barking) I'll have to find day care for Kaylie.
I mean, she's ten, but still...
Her and Tyler, they're brother and sister.
I'll come home and one will be hanging from the ceiling fan and the other one will be God knows where.
>> I don't want to move.
I like living here, because my friends are nice to me.
Like, I just want to stay put here.
We won't get to keep our dog, Nala.
It's extra money, and we're going to get rid of her.
Like, I want to spend as much time as with her.
But then again, I want to spend time with my friends.
(chattering in background) ♪ ♪ (indistinct conversation) >> And there might be a question about whether you get food stamps or not.
We're going to ask you for your name and your phone number.
>> I think there's a lot of people in America that need help with food.
Because they're poor or they're either homeless, or they're both.
We need food for our family.
I'm hitting my growth spurt, and I'm really hungry.
My favorite food is Chinese food.
I'm craving that right now.
Know what makes me mad?
We can't afford it.
(laughs) ♪ ♪ >> I think we're probably pretty good for fourth grade.
>> Wolves aren't ballerinas.
I've seen a lot of things in my life... >> (over intercom): Mr. Jaquin?
>> If this is a good time for you, would you like to send your students down for the nutrition club?
>> I'll have them down there shortly.
>> Nutrition club is a bag of food that you get every Friday and you have to make last the whole weekend.
They announce in class that you have to go down for nutrition club if you're in it.
You have to go to the office and you have to sign your name in for it.
And then, um, you go put it in your locker and then you go back to class.
>> Hey, good morning, Brittany.
>> Hey, Brittany.
>> I'm surprised by how things can change so fast.
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... on the verge of being homeless again.
♪ ♪ >> That'll fit you, and it's cute.
We just found out my mom is pregnant.
She's like a whale.
My dad's been working.
He's been working for a week and he has $64 total.
>> Definitely not a good time to have a baby, but I don't believe in abortion and... >> Mm-mmm.
Financially, we're going to be in a lot more trouble.
>> Financially, we'll be strapped.
>> (laughs): Dogs.
>> (growls) >> Good Lord.
>> Are you okay, Mom?
>> Don't throw up.
>> Is the baby hurting you?
>> Are you going to be alive in ten seconds?
>> Oh, my God, I'm having a hot flash.
>> That's just fanning you, Logan.
I think it would be difficult for the baby to grow up here because we don't have a lot of money.
>> I think the thing I miss the most from having all this happen is the internet.
I mean, people don't realize what they have until it's gone.
And, whew, serious World of Warcraft withdrawals, man.
'Cause, say, in World of Warcraft, I'm awesome.
I'm a level 85 paladin.
Tank and healer.
And in real life, I'm a 14-year-old boy with nothing going for him.
(chuckles) (train horn blaring) ♪ ♪ >> Grr!
Nala, she was, like, my dog.
Like, she was, like, my favorite dog.
And now we have to take her to the pound.
We have to get rid of Nala, but not Tanner.
Nala's so adorable.
Like if you had her, she would sleep on your bed and she would sleep on you.
She's like your little guard dog.
We're getting rid of my perfect little lovey dog.
Yes, Nala, I hear you stressing out.
I love you, Nala.
♪ ♪ >> Does she have any favorite toys or games?
>> She needs lots and lots of bones.
She'll chew one in, like, an hour, so... (whispering): She hates baths.
>> Oh, yeah.
>> Doesn't like baths?
This is my animal lover.
She'll have to go into our isolation room, since she hasn't gotten any vaccinations yet.
So she'll be in an isolated area right now.
All right, sweetie.
Do you want the leash and collar back at all?
>> Just the leash.
>> And the collar!
>> Why the collar?
She can have it.
>> Collar, Mom... Fine.
(whimpers) (crying) (barks) ♪ ♪ (wind rustling) >> I got him!
>> I thought we were getting a double bed.
>> And there's no mini fridge.
And there's no microwave.
Okay, we have to ask them about that.
I thought we were getting a double bed.
>> Well, we're going to have to ask them about the mini fridge.
>> This is small.
>> It's going to be small.
Plain and simple, it's going to be small.
>> This is as big as my room.
♪ ♪ (kids shouting playfully) >> Here's one of Tom's old business cards.
>> Oh, yeah, I remember T&C!
>> T&C, Tom and Classy.
>> You don't want a lot of people to find out that you live here.
People will make fun of it and, and it can really haunt you after a while.
It starts... you start to have no friends, people will tease you about it and stuff like that.
>> You getting too big.
You always want something extra.
>> I don't want nothing extra.
>> Yes, you do.
You want a phone, you want shoes... >> I got a phone.
I ain't wearing no earth walkers outside.
Jordans and Nikes.
>> Jonny, Nikes and Jordans are expensive.
>> I know.
>> Just for a name, that makes no sense.
You need a job.
>> Nike's not expensive.
>> Look, I've been buying Josh shoes after shoes after shoes.
I can't afford it.
Now what-- Walmart?
He gotta take Walmart.
What else can I do?
At least his feet not dragging the ground.
>> There were some Jordan flip-flops in there for 30 bucks.
Now, that's a great deal.
You cannot find no Jordan flip-flops, the brand-new kind, for no 30 bucks.
They're probably not real, but guess what?
>> Is that a great deal when I can go to Walmart and buy my... the shoes I'm wearing I got from Walmart for five dollars.
>> I'm talking about name-brand stuff.
That's a good deal, Mama.
>> My sandals are nice, right?
>> If you listen to it, it's a good deal.
>> You want some of those, right?
See, that's why I like y'all when y'all small.
They accept stuff.
You getting too big.
Your feet growing.
You in grown people's shoes now.
(groans) Please stop growing!
(chuckles) >> I'm embarrassed because I'm poor and because I live in a shelter.
It makes me feel like I just... wish I never lived here.
>> There's a kid at the school who looks... dress worser than me.
But he has his own house, though.
He got a house to call home.
He don't have to go sit down with thousands of people to eat dinner.
He can run to his refrigerator and open it up.
And I can't do that.
I have to wait until a certain time and I have to eat, because if I don't eat, I will starve all night, until the next morning.
>> Make sure you stay in line so you can get your plate, okay?
>> Yes, yes, sir.
>> Stand right here, and as soon as she goes, Jonny, you go after Jasmine.
>> As a mother, you always got different thoughts going through your head and mind and wishing that you could change things and wishing things was different.
But what are you to do?
You can't keep beating yourself up about it, but at the same time...
It's just hard.
Having a family is hard.
Maintaining a family is hard.
Keeping us indoors is hard.
(door closes) >> Hey, Mom and Daddy.
Guess what I got on my grades?
>> That's good.
>> One for the Willis team.
>> That saved you from 70 lashes, didn't it?
(laughing) So did you do good?
>> I got two A's, two B's, and two C's.
>> Ooh, wow.
>> That's what's up, Johnny.
>> I have to get you a skateboard.
>> Grades is my only way out of here.
If my grades are not good, I know I can't go to universities like my dream is to go.
I know if my grades are not good, I can't play football like I want to.
If I don't succeed doing what I have to do in school and making good grades, I will fail-- I'm going to live this life, a life of shelters, going through hard times, can't feed my kids, trying to figure out where I'm going to lay my head every night.
♪ ♪ >> Look... Ewww...
It's all crunched up and there's not much space.
(groans) He takes up the hallway to go to the bathroom.
We had much more space in the house.
Be right back.
The cold stuff that needs to be freezed is in the sink.
We don't have a fridge.
Just this sink is our fridge.
We have to get ice mostly every day because it melts during night.
When I struggle for money, there's nothing to eat.
All there is is cans of vegetables.
So I've been eating vegetables.
There's really not enough food.
If I could change anything, it would be being poor.
I really don't want to be poor because then you can't get... Because then how can you pay rent, how can you get food, how can you get a roof over your head if you're gonna be poor?
♪ ♪ >> All I want is to play football, but football is expensive.
I can name a few items I need and want for my sports, but I just got to wait on it till next time Mama can afford it.
>> Ooh, good one, good one.
>> I'm 14.
My life is almost over, until I'm a grown man.
And if I don't have the opportunity to show somebody to play football, football won't exist in four years from now.
If I don't get to play on a team this year, that dream is going to slowly start fading away.
That's what happens to some of the dreams of kids.
They pertain to something and they can't afford it.
(baby crying) >> It's a boy.
The baby's a boy.
>> He wants a bottle.
>> I was really hoping for a little sister, but, you know, you get what you get.
Went back to work for the company that I used to work for, and they're not doing the greatest, either.
I'd say I got maybe a week's worth of work, and then they're going to be closing up shop from this local office and only keeping one of the three branches open, you know.
So it's just temporary, but it's something.
Temporary fix to a long-term problem.
>> No more babies.
I got my tubes tied after I had him.
I love him and I wouldn't mind having more, but we can't afford it.
>> The babies' futures are going to be weird and messed up.
Life is going to be hard because there's hardly gonna be any jobs left in the future, or any money.
Then rich people will be poor, and like this.
You might get poor in the last few months.
You never know.
♪ ♪ >> My mom can't sign us up for school.
My mom says that we're going to go, we're going to get in school when we move into the trailer that we are getting.
>> The trailer is very livable, it has floors.
We're going to be redoing it.
>> Am I going to have to crawl in with the snakes to get the pipes unfrozen?
>> No, no.
It's all... >> The best thing to do is put hay bales around it.
>> I know, we're going to get some of those and do that.
But we're going to be moving the trailer probably in a couple of summers, but that'll be two years away, because we have to have a two-year lease.
>> If we stay there two years.
>> If I keep missing school, then I see my future poor, on the streets, in a box, not even.
And... asking for money everywhere, everybody, and then stealing stuff from stores and, you know...
I don't want to steal stuff.
I don't want to do any of that stuff.
I want to get an education and a good job.
I believe that I'm going to get a perfect job that I like and that I want to do.
People can't stop you from believing in your own dreams.
♪ ♪ >> Barack Obama has been reelected.
The 44th president.
Listen to the crowd.
>> ...warning Chicago to expect dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills... >> The soaring price of gasoline, now $3.67 a gallon... >> Detroit is now the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy... >> ...shelters to stay open 24 hours a day instead of... >> ...leaving millions struggling to find opportunity in the land that always promised it.
>> My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you.
♪ ♪ >> Donald Trump is the next president of the United States.
>> I'm Kaylie and I'm now 15, turning 16 in a month or so.
I've moved to a trailer, then I moved to a duplex, and then I moved here.
And we've been here for almost a year and a half, two years.
Ow, that actually hurt.
>> I'm Tyler, I'm 18 years old now.
I would still say we're, we're kind of stuck in a hole, but it's... it's better than what it was before.
Mom, she was working at night, she was in third shifts, and they worked her 40 hours, 50 hours a week at third shift, so she was sleeping in the morning.
If I didn't wake up in time for school, I was late and she couldn't call me in.
I racked up a couple hundred detentions, and I dropped out and stopped going to school, and they didn't call my mom, they didn't care.
So I felt like they just kind of dropped me off like a piece of trash, almost.
(water running) >> Bella, oh, my God, I'm so happy I got her.
She cuddles with me, actually cuddles.
She'll sit there and lay on my chest all night.
Bella, can I get underneath your chin?
Are you gonna let me?
It's important for me to have a dog because it's kind of like therapy.
Come on, lift up-- lift up.
Bella helps me feel safe.
Everyone surrounding me is getting cancer.
My grandma was diagnosed with mucosal melanoma cancer.
My grandma, she gives a lot.
Without her, we wouldn't have this house, my mom wouldn't have her car, like, I wouldn't have a phone.
We wouldn't have anything without her.
>> You could be put on your feet, but there's always something putting you back to the ground, and pulling you back.
Well, there's gravity, but there's other things, too.
>> My mom, she was then diagnosed with cancer.
She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
>> I was supposed to go to the specialist this week and schedule the surgery.
But they won't see me because they don't accept Iowa Medicaid.
>> It kind of makes me afraid, like, when I get older, what'll happen to me.
Because my grandma and my mom got it, I'm bound to get it, maybe.
Maybe if luck's on my side, I won't, but... How long are you gonna be out of work?
>> Well, it was supposed to be two months, a month to two months.
Now it's probably going to be closer to three, maybe four.
>> Sometimes I'm not sad about things that happen.
Sometimes I am.
I think I've just gotten so used to bad things happening, I just don't care anymore.
(train horn blaring) ♪ ♪ >> I'm Brittany and I'm now 15 years old.
My hair isn't blonde anymore because I dye it, which is one of my hobbies, I guess.
I like to do different stuff with my hair.
And I like it.
And I'm probably not going to stop until all of my hair is gone.
(chuckles) >> Give me one of these ones.
I'm Roger and I'm now 19.
Graduated high school a year and a half early.
I got a job, I've gotten a few different jobs.
I've just been working, been working and sleeping.
(chuckles) >> Zakkary, one... >> Mommy.
>> It's not a toy, you see that?
That's germs, that's gross.
Put your chair back.
>> My little brother Zakk turned five.
Zakk is autistic.
To help him, we'll count with him and we'll help him try to read and stuff like that.
>> B is for... >> Ball and... bee.
>> I love that little guy, he's so awesome.
He's helped pull the family together and definitely takes a lot of stress out of the day.
(Zakk coughs) There's your dragon.
I think my monster could kick your monster's butt, dude.
(crashes) (laughs) Well, dang!
>> Middle school was filled with drama.
And I hated it so much.
People would bully me because I was poor.
It distracted me from focusing on my grades 'cause they would, like, pass notes and everything saying that I look ugly and that I needed money.
My lowest point was getting expelled and getting held back.
And my highest point was, you know, finally, like, graduating middle school.
And I felt, like, super-proud of myself.
I like art and creativity because you get away from the real world.
It just helps me a lot.
>> It's definitely gone up and down over the past five years.
(truck starts) Work's unsteady.
It'll be going good for, you know, a week or two, a month, and then out of nowhere, all the bills pile up and just we can't seem to find any money any way.
>> I know that my parents try to make it less stressful for us, but Dad will come home with a really bad paycheck and then I'll just, like, start doubting everything.
We won't be able to pay bills, is what I keep thinking.
And I'm thinking that we're not gonna be able to pay rent.
We're gonna be sitting on the streets or something like that, and just every time that happens, it pops up in my head.
You know, being stressed out and everything is part of life.
>> What can I get for you?
>> I just need to pick up these, two shower doors and a storm door.
>> You betcha.
>> My dad, he just recently got his job back at Lowe's, and that's when I started with him, too.
I think I've gotten myself into the business to where it's always gonna be there, you know?
People are always gonna need sidings, and I always figured if this didn't work out, build toilets.
Everybody's always gonna need to take a crap.
(laughs) I never really thought that I'd still be at home, but I don't make enough money to make it on my own.
I just think at this point in my life, I don't need to be happy right now-- I need to make everything I need to and get the ball rolling.
>> Most kids around here, they do graduate high school, but hardly any of them ever go to college.
Because, you know, college is expensive.
I want to go to college, because I feel like I could do better.
But then other times, I get doubts of how, like, you know, what if I get a bad job and end up like this with my kids?
(sighs) ♪ ♪ (chattering) I'm Jasmine and I'm 14, turning 15 in December.
Right now we're in a hotel because we're waiting for my mom and dad to find us somewhere to live.
(laughing) Jonny is in Chicago with my grandma.
I haven't really heard from him since the last time that we saw him.
I miss Jonny because, um, he-he listened, and he was somebody that I could talk to.
>> What you doing?
>> The hardest parts for me were jumping from school to school.
I'm not blaming it on this situation, but my grades aren't bad, but they're not as good as they should be.
>> So have they offered you tutoring there?
>> It's not in the classes that I need.
>> They don't help me with math.
>> Well, if you really need it, and you really need to stay after school, then you can get the tutoring, Jasmine.
I just got to come get you.
I don't think it's my parents' fault because they're moving so we could have somewhere to stay and so we can be stable.
For you to get a house, that takes time and work and money.
>> It's like a game, the hurry up and wait.
You waiting on answers to see when you can move or when you can get in or... >> You can have one year where everything is fine, but that next coming year, you catch a bad cold and it's all over with.
>> And sometimes it means picking up and leaving, going somewhere to try to start over to try to get a better fit for your family.
>> I feel like, with the parents that I have, it's going to come eventually.
Right now, he-he cleans windows.
>> But the thing is is that you make up in your mind, like I said, whether you gonna survive or not.
So I choose to go ahead and try to make an honest dollar.
>> People don't know half of the stuff that he does to make sure that we're stable and we're okay.
He tries harder than people think.
(crying) ♪ ♪ >> I'm Jonny.
I'm 19 now.
I live with my grandmother in Chicago.
With my parents, they couldn't stay stable and moving around a lot of places, and I knew it was going to be a problem for me academically as far as my life situation.
I guess I started hanging out with the wrong people.
I ended up going to jail.
When I went to jail that day, it was, like, "You've really fallen off.
"You let yourself fall off.
"You went from all this good stuff happening to you, "you gonna be, you know what I'm saying, a good football player."
Scouts was coming to see me at practices and asking about me, and wanting me to play on their team, to "Now you smoking weed and you got locked up and all that."
It was just like a reality check to myself.
Like, "You've really fallen off.
You need to get back on track."
And this was my wake-up call, I guess.
I came up here to start over.
If you fall, you gotta get up, dust it off, and keep on going.
That's the only thing you can do.
Till you get to the top.
I work for HMR Designs.
It's a party and wedding designing company.
Just working to this point till I enroll in school this spring.
When spring come around, I could still end up going to the school I want to go to, which is Louisiana State University.
Going there and pursuing this football dream.
There we go, come on, get open.
Oh, gotta go for it.
You can come check on me five years from now, I'll be somewhere, playing for somebody's team in the NFL.
Everybody knows the American Dream-- oh, go to college, and go live your life.
That's all I want to do.
Living my dream and take care of my family.
♪ ♪ (laughing) >> I would not do that.
♪ ♪ >> I was sitting at home till I was just, like, "Why am I sitting here doing nothing when I could be finishing high school?"
I see how hard it is for my mom, 'cause she didn't finish school.
I think I started two days late but I was, like, "I need to get in there and do it now."
A lot of teachers have been telling me that, uh, it's better late than never.
But I'm right there at the edge of being too late!
(laughs) >> I'm gonna laugh if he falls.
>> Told you!
♪ ♪ >> I wouldn't choose this life, but it's kind of showing me what can happen.
I would take this experience and use it to make myself a better person by learning from it and knowing what not to do.
My hopes for the future would be to have a house and my own room and my own space, but you can't really have everything you want.
♪ ♪ >> If I have kids, I would not want them to be growing up like this.
No matter what I go through, I'll still, like, you know, want to try and try and try to be better.
>> There've probably been many children who've grown up in a poor household, became rich in the future, which I believe I can.
Um, but it's a 50-50 chance.
But the most thing I'm afraid of is becoming like my mom.
No offense, she tried her best, but I'm scared to death of becoming like her.
Her financial situation and things that's happened to her that affects how she acts.
If I become like her, I don't know.
I'll cross that bridge when I get there.
♪ ♪ I know it's gonna be really hard.
But maybe someday in my future, I'll graduate from college and push through life.
>> Go to pbs.org/frontline to learn more about child poverty in America, then listen to the latest episode of "The Frontline Dispatch," our new original podcast series.
>> And I'm not entitled to anything.
You know, I'm not innocent.
>> Subscribe now wherever you listen to podcasts, or at pbs.org/frontline.
>> NARRATOR: Next time... >> Here comes the federal government, saying that they own the land and everything on it is theirs.
But my dad said, "Hell, no."
>> NARRATOR: How one family's fight against the government... >> The armed standoff in Bunkerville... >> This became sort of this rallying cry for anti-government extremists everywhere.
>> ...sparked a movement.
>> Anti-government patriot Ammon Bundy is in federal custody... >> NARRATOR: And what it means.
>> The Bundys defied three court orders and the rule of law.
♪ ♪ >> For more on this and other "Frontline" programs, visit our website at pbs.org/frontline.
Frontline's "Poor Kids" is available on DVD.
To order, visit shopPBS.org or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.
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