Our New Season Begins Tonight With “Growing Up Poor in America”


September 8, 2020

Early this year, it was estimated that almost 12 million children in America were living in poverty — a burden disproportionately borne by Black and Latino kids.

Then came the coronavirus.

As the pandemic continues, the presidential election approaches and America reckons with racism, FRONTLINE tonight presents a documentary offering a powerful look at child poverty in the time of COVID-19 — told from the perspective of the children themselves.

Children like 14-year-old Kyah, who with her mother and her older sister have been living out of a single room in a relative’s house — experiencing what’s been called “hidden homelessness” in order to avoid entering the shelter system. “I couldn’t imagine living like this forever, and I don’t want to live like this forever,” Kyah says in the documentary, Growing Up Poor in America.

To make the film, director Jezza Neumann, who also did our 2012 documentary Poor Kids, and his colleague, producer Lauren Santucci, spent the past six months following three families in different places in Ohio – home to some of the poorest communities in the country. They were on the ground there when the pandemic hit and stayed through the summer to capture the day-to-day realities these kids and their families are facing.

Growing Up Poor in America airs on PBS at 9/8c (check local listings) and is streaming on our site and the PBS Video App starting at 7/6c. It’s supported by the WNET initiative on inequality and economic opportunity, Chasing the Dream. After watching Growing Up Poor in America, I hope you’ll join us the following week on Sept. 15 for a virtual event on the current state of child poverty in the U.S.

Kicking off our new season, tonight’s film is the first in a run of new FRONTLINE documentaries this fall illuminating crucial issues and choices facing American democracy in the runup to the election.

Next Tuesday, Sept. 15, with New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb, we’ll examine the volatile intersection of race and policing — and the struggle to hold departments accountable — in Policing the Police 2020.

Then, on Sept. 22, we’ll present our highly-anticipated election-year special, The Choice 2020: Trump vs. Biden. This dual biography of Donald Trump and Joe Biden investigates who they are as people, how they respond in crises, and their visions for America’s future at this tense moment.

On Oct. 6, with the Associated Press and the Global Reporting Centre, we’ll investigate America’s Medical Supply Crisis, looking at why the U.S. was left scrambling for critical medical equipment as the coronavirus that has now killed nearly 190,000 Americans swept the country.

And on Oct. 20, with Jelani Cobb and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, we’ll dig into allegations of disenfranchisement, questions about voter fraud, and the realities of how the pandemic is being used to sway election turnout in Whose Vote Counts?

We thank you for watching and for your trust and support as our new season begins.

Raney Aronson-Rath, Executive Producer, FRONTLINE



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