This Week in Poverty: the impact of stress and early intervention on poor kids, the state of children in America, and the GOP breaks out some Golden Oldie myths about poor people, black people and a lack of work ethic… But first:
The Vital Statistics
US poverty (less than $22,300 for a family of four): 46 million people, 15.1 percent.
Kids in poverty: 16.4 million, 22 percent of all kids.
Deep poverty (less than $11,157 for a family of four): 20.5 million people, 6.7 percent of population.
Impact of public policy, 2010: without government assistance, poverty twice as high—nearly 30 percent.
Impact of public policy, 1964–1973: poverty rate fell by 43 percent.
Number of Americans “deep poor,” “poor” or “near poor”: 100 million, or 1 in 3.
GOP: Welcome to South Carolina
Kids 8 and younger living in poverty: 28 percent, tied for fifth worst in the US (including DC).
People living in poverty: 18.2 percent, eighth worst.
High school graduation rate (2008): 61.9 percent, third worst.
Unemployment rate (avg. month, 2010): 11.2 percent, sixth worst.
On Children and Poverty
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has an outstanding op-ed on the link between “toxic stress” in young children and their educational, health and social outcomes later in life.
Research shows how pliable the brain is in the prenatal and early years—how brain architecture can be changed for better or worse and then is increasingly difficult to modify over time. (For more info, check out these three videos from Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child.)
Kristof writes that parental affection and presence are key since “the stress emerges when a child senses persistent threats but no protector.” Early intervention programs also make a huge difference. The Nurse-Family Partnership does home visits with poor women who are pregnant for the first time, until the child reaches age 2. Studies show that at age 6 participating kids are one-third as likely to have behavioral or intellectual problems as kids who weren’t enrolled, and half as likely to be arrested at age 15.