Children and Poverty Chapter

Excerpt from Chapter :

Poverty and Homelessness in Children

Poverty is the deficiency in the amount of money or material possessions considered to be acceptable for individuals in a particular country. Among families who are homeless with children 42% of homeless children are under the age of six years old. The majority of homeless families with children cited poverty as the third most common reason for their being homeless. A child is born into poverty every 33 seconds in the United States.

Key professional and community organizations addressing this issue/population: There are several organizations addressing this issue including the U.S. Department of Agriculture with programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Program, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) seeking to provide affordable housing to everyone, the Children's Defense Fund, Voices for America's Children, the National Urban League, and the National Coalition for the Homeless. Local and community-based organizations such as The Salvation Army, The YWCA, Soup Kitchens, and Homeless Shelters also offer assistance.

3. Common assumptions / beliefs: The most common assumptions regarding homelessness and poverty are that people living at the poverty level or below are commonly assumed to be less industrious, less intelligent, less skilled, or less talented than individuals above the poverty level.

4. Facts: According to the National Poverty Center income designations defining poverty rates for single and married parents are:

Single Parent

One child


Two children


Two Adults

One child


Two children


Three children


In 2010, 15.1% of people lived in poverty. Children are disproportionately represented within the poverty guidelines.
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Children in the United States represent 24% of the total population but represent 36% of the population living at or below the poverty line. Studies indicate that children who are living at the poverty level or below and/or homeless are less prepared to attend school, overall have lower educational achievements than other children, and have higher rates of poverty, health risks, mental health issues, and substance abuse as adults.

5. Implications for understanding influences and relationships: Research has determined that there is a direct relationship between early childhood intervention and positive outcomes for children born in poverty/homelessness. Decreasing risk factors in the child's environment leads to an increase in the child's potential for normal development and educational attainment. One factor that has been shown to have the greatest influence on reversing the impact of poverty and children is the relationship between the parent and the child.

6. Strategies for building reciprocal relationships: Intervention programs and preventative programs offered to the public that target health concerns such as immunization programs, prenatal care programs, etc. are associated with positive health outcomes for children who are born into poverty and homelessness. Moreover, these programs lead to increased cognitive development and educational attainment in these children.

Getting parents involved both inside and outside of the school environment can strongly influence the child's development. Since the parent/child relationship is important in mediating effects of poverty, parental characteristics such as being predictable, socially responsible, offering positive role modeling, engaging in frequent and positive verbal interactions, and giving mutual attention have been shown to have positive effects on…

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