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Understanding Poverty

According to the U.S. Census, in 2023 the U.S. Federal Government set the poverty threshold at $14,580/yr for a one-person household, and $30,000/yr for a four-person household. Anyone earning that amount or less is considered below the poverty line. Poverty has been a problem in the United States since its foundation. A society that aims to reward hard work creates a hierarchy almost by definition, and that hierarchical system always must push some people to the bottom, into poverty and hardship. The negative effects of poverty on the individual and on the family are far too numerous to list, and while poverty is difficult to endure, it is also practically impossible to escape, due to low minimum wages that are barely enough to live on and continually defeat the efforts of low-income families to move their way up the hierarchy. In response to heightened awareness of the trials undergone by the poor and destitute in our society, the Economic Opportunity Act was passed in order to help fight poverty in 1964. This act called for the formation of private or public nonprofit organizations labeled community action agencies.  More on the current Poverty Guidelines and to view the 2023 Data used for this purpose by visiting the Health & Human Services Poverty Guidelines webpage.

Changing Peoples Lives​


Some Community Action Agencies (CAAs) have participated in programming that administers emergency funding to individuals  and families in extreme need. Other initiatives include providing independently controlled accounts with enough money in them to give families down on their luck a boost toward self-sufficiency. Programs assisting individuals in finding and maintaining employment are part of many Community Action programs.  Financial counseling and other programs that aim to educate Kansans about smart spending are regular pieces of the work in a Kansas CAA.

A Better Place to Live


Another priority for Community Action Agencies is providing education for children of low-income or unemployed families. Children born into poverty are less likely to do well in school for any number of reasons, from lack of motivation or attention to being at greater risk for health problems that might impede learning. In order to attempt to offset the achievement gap between low-income students and richer students, many CAAs offer early education through Early Head Start and Head Start programs.

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