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Children and Poverty

Essay by   •  May 9, 2011  •  Case Study  •  453 Words (2 Pages)  •  2,172 Views

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When children grow up in poverty, they pay a heavy price. Research shows that they have more illnesses, perform poorly in school, have more mental health problems, and earn less when they are adults. Research shows that for every $1 that a country invests in giving children a good start in life, the country saves $7 in costs for health and other problems that arise when kids' basic needs are not met. Helping children out of poverty is therefore morally, socially and economically productive.

Nearly 15 million children in the United States - 21% of all children - live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level - $22,050 a year for a family of four. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses. Using this standard, 42% of children live in low income families. Most of these children have parents who work, but low wages and unstable employment leave their families struggling to make ends meet. Poverty can impede children's ability to learn and contribute to social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Poverty also can contribute to poor health and mental health. Risks are greatest for children who experience poverty when they are young and/or experience deep and persistent poverty.

Research is clear that poverty is the single greatest threat to children's well-being. But effective public policies - to make work pay for low-income parents and to provide high-quality early care and learning experiences for their children - can make a difference. Investments in the most vulnerable children are also critical. As a result poverty has the ability to immobilize the entire development of communities by locking it in a continuing cycle of under-achievement. Poverty stricken populations, lacking access to basic education and basic needs, are vulnerable to changes in the global economy. Healthier and better educated populations on the other hand are more productive, more diverse and better able to adapt to change.

So how can you help?

Write to your prime minister or president and to your Member of Parliament or local representative. Tell your government to keep its promise to kids by taking actions to end child poverty now. 
* Arrange a meeting with your Member of Parliament and ask him or her to make ending child poverty their top priority. Ask them specifically what they are going to do. Take notes so that you can meet with them at a later date and check whether they have done what they said they would. 
* Speak up for children. Let your voice be heard. Insist that your government end child poverty.
* Become more informed on child poverty issues, and the ways to help confront the issue by conducting research and raising awareness.

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