poverty

In this country, all children are supposed to have a shot at success — a chance to jump "from rags to riches" in one generation.

Even if riches remain out of reach, then the belief has been that every hard-working American should be able to go from poverty to the middle class.

On Tuesday, a book and a separate study are being released — both turning up evidence that the one-generation leap is getting harder to accomplish in an economy so tied to education, technological know-how and networking.

Kentucky is the 47th healthiest state in the U.S., according to a United Health Foundation report released Thursday.

The state's low marks were attributed to a high prevalence of smoking, a high percentage of childhood poverty and a high rate of preventable hospitalizations, the report said.

Mississippi ranked 50th, followed by Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Hawaii topped the list as the healthiest state in the country. Indiana ranked 37th.

Whitney Jones / WKMS

Updated 10/29/14 12:18 p.m.

Fulton is one of the poorest communities in western Kentucky. There's a lack of industry and its population has decreased by almost a third in the last ten years. 

Of the families that are left poverty is rampant. This story follows an unemployed single mom and explains the challenges facing the people trying to help bring families out of poverty in Fulton. 

As the Kentucky House of Representatives election race heats up, second district incumbent Richard Heath (R) and challenger Jesse Wright (D) visited WKMS for a political forum.

"Money" by Tax Credits, Flickr Commons, (CC BY 2.0)

New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau show Kentucky ranks 40th in the nation for child poverty. The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey says 25.3 percent of Kentucky children lived in poverty in 2013, which is a little more than three percent higher than the national average.

Whitney Jones / WKMS

After learning about two people in the beginning and middle phases of poverty, we turn to someone one the verge of making it out.

At 32, Khara Gaskamp is raising two children while studying at West Kentucky Community and Technical College to be a nurse. Since childhood, she has been confronted with obstacle after obstacle, from an abusive stepfather to medical crises,  that have made it difficult for her to become financially stable.

Chad Lampe

Angie Smith is in the middle, both literally and figuratively. She’s a single mom in the middle of raising two kids. She’s in the middle of updating and moving into a home built by her late grandfather. She’s in the middle of her life, at 42-years-old mostly marked with low income jobs starting at 18.

But that wasn’t her plan. Her childhood dream was to work aboard a ship for Greenpeace, protecting whales. She still wants to work in an environmental field.

Whitney Jones / WKMS

Joseph Lee Taylor grew up in a poor family. His father traveled as a truck driver and his mother had an injury when he was in high school that kept her from her job as a secretary.

Joseph worked to help support his family and take care of his mother, but doing so made it difficult to successfully finish college.

    

WKMS News presents a new documentary: Living on the Line: Poverty in Western Kentucky.

Living on the Line tells the story of three families, each making less than a living wage. They share stories of dealing with hardships, trying to move forward and staying optimistic in spite of their situations. Each family has hope for better days and works to get out of poverty.

Like it or not, television has the power to shape our perceptions of the world. So what do sitcoms, dramas and reality TV say about poor people?

In life and on TV, "poor" is relative. Take breakfast: For Honey Boo Boo's family, it's microwaved sausage and pancake sandwiches; for children in The Wire's Baltimore ghetto, it's a juice box and a bag of chips before school; and on Good Times, set in the Chicago projects back in the 1970s, it was a healthier choice: oatmeal.

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