While most children are looking forward to getting gifts during the upcoming holiday season, it is worth noting that one in five children live in poverty. Poverty is a major risk factor for children's development and deep poverty is linked to a range of physical-biological, cognitive-academic, and social-emotional problems. These problems persist into adulthood. Poverty also contributes to a growing health and academic achievement gap, declining college attendance and graduation rates, and an increasing workforce skills gap.
A new Social Policy Report from SRCD on Children, Families and Poverty: Definitions, Trends, Emerging Science and Implications for Policy provides an overview of the research evidence on the development of children who live in poverty. According to the report:
- Poverty's impact on children's education achievements and health results in lower economic productivity in adulthood and higher health care costs.
- Chronic stress associated with living in poverty changes children's responses to everyday challenges in their schools and communities.
- Substandard housing and the physical and social hazards in many poor neighborhoods are detrimental to children's development.
- Besides temporary upturns in the economy, it is a collection of public policies that has helped lower child poverty rates.
- Programs that work directly to improve young children's development through high-quality early care and education show positive effects, though often only in the short term.
- Programs that provide cash to families for their economic needs and children's well-being (if they fulfill such requirements as children's school attendance) are showing some positive effects.
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