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Report: 1 in 5 Texas children are living in poverty

A new report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities reveals one in five Texas children are living at or below the poverty line.

For years, Mayra Lopez dreamed of being a nurse. But as she became an adult, got married and started a family, her dream felt out of reach.

"Those programs are full-time, so you can't really work and go to school," Lopez said. "So, that was my biggest thing. Having my child, you know, I was 20-years-old, 21, when I had my son. That was my priority then."

A few years ago, her family fell on hard times. They were living pay check to pay check and were considered to be living in poverty.

It's a struggle many Texas families know all too well.

According to the latest State of Texas Children report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities, of the 7.4 million children in Texas, more than 1.5 million are living below the poverty line.

"That's one in five Texas kids," Kristie Tingle, Research Analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), said. "The thing to remember about the poverty line is it captures people who are in the most need. So, it's families that are making below $25,000 a year. If a family's making $26,000 a year, a family of four say, then they're considered to not be in poverty, even though they're probably still struggling a lot financially."

"Children who grow up in poverty are a lot more likely to live in poverty as adults," Tingle added.

Lopez was able to break the cycle. She enrolled in Capital Idea, a program that provides resources to families in poverty, so they can advance their careers through education. She went to nursing school and is now a registered nurse.

Tingle said state lawmakers could do more to help families too.

"Some of the things we could do include increasing access to the programs that alleviate the effects of poverty. So, access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, which is also known as food stamps, can help families put the food on the table that they need," she said.

The CPPP would also like to see lawmakers expand access to Medicaid and CHIP and look at career and education programs to help parents.