Yakima County has highest number of children living in poverty

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- More children live in poverty as a percentage here in Yakima County than anywhere else in Washington. 26,000 children according to the health department and what is being done to lower that number.

Jeri Delegans is a single mom trying to make ends meet and that means sometimes taking the bus to work.

"I alternate to conserve and save," said Jeri Delegans.

She has a part-time job, but goes to Worksource to get a better one that can pay her bills while raising her five year old son.

"It's small, but our one-bedroom apartment that was like the biggest accomplishment for me. It's just going back to the simple things and a lot of people take all that for granted and I know its small but it's a starting point because like stairs there's always room to move up."

Moving up is her goal to give her son a better life than he has now.

"For us to get a simple house again and for him to have a yard and we're not just barely making it type of thing."

In Washington state, about 18 percent of children are living in poverty; however, here in Yakima County that number is almost double. Yakima County has the most children living in poverty per capita than anywhere else in the state.

"The kids are definitely most effected when the family is in poverty because they have less resources to meet their needs and it affects their overall quality of life," said DSHS case worker Gloria Ponce.

DSHS has programs that offer cash, medical and food assistance to families in need.

Clearly, Jeri isn't alone. The number of families in the upper valley getting food assistance has grown from around ten-thousand to almost 17-thousand over the last four years.

"Everything we've gotten has been such a huge blessing, I don't know what we would have done without that," said Jeri.

Social workers say a lot of people don't apply for their programs because they don't think they're eligible. Awards are based on income.