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Growing Up Poor in AmericaGrowing Up Poor in America (2020)

This new episode of PBS Frontline (September 8, 2020) follows three children and their mothers in Ohio as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates their already precarious struggle to stay afloat. There are no fathers present in these stories, which are narrated mainly by the children. Shawn, age thirteen, lives near Athens in a trailer with his mother, who has a kidney disease and can't work. They have no car. His brother lives with his grandparents. Kaia, fourteen, and her mother, are homeless, and live in a single room with friends in Columbus. They borrow a car. When they couldn't pay for their storage unit, all their possessions were auctioned off. Kaia's mother had a series of temp jobs, but COVID stopped that source of income. Laikyen, age twelve, lives with her mother and sister in Marietta.  She has ADHD, but won't take her medicine. Her mother works the night shift at a gas station. This one hour film lives up to its billing: it shows you what it's like to grow up poor in America, and believe me, it serves as a reality check for those of us who are more fortunate.  Crazy fact: I learned that some (not all) McDonalds offer a free lunch program for school age-kids. I watched this one-hour film from the PBS website.

Dan Clendenin:

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