Child Poverty and Opportunities in U.S. Connected to Neighbourhood

26/03/2012 - As research increasing shows the connection between growing up in poverty and early childhood development, it also shows that in the U.S. children living in distressed and poor communities face even more challenges.

Research shows that childhood poverty for young children has implications for brain development, impacting their chances at educational success and future success in the labour force. Poor early childhood development can affect children in negative ways into their adult years.

Even more research out of the U.S.A. shows that children who grow up in poverty and in poor communities are facing even more barriers to long-term economic security due to often having less access to quality educational opportunities and strong social networks.

It shows that for a child’s development, where they grow up can have an even stronger effect than the level of their family’s income. Concentrated poverty creates a disadvantage for children living below and above the federal poverty line.

Children growing up in concentrated-poverty neighborhoods are at risk of elevated stress levels, lower test scores, and higher school dropout rates. The research shows that the risk rises even for children living in middle-and upper-income families, with those growing up in a high-poverty neighbourhood facing an increased risk of downward mobility by up to 52 percent compared to those of similar income in a low-poverty neighbourhood.

There are also reports that children of colour in the U.S. are not only more vulnerable to poverty, they are also more vulnerable to concentrated poverty across the country.

Community-based poverty is raising new questions about the best way to combat poverty. Some are calling for poverty to be addressed on the level of poor communities, and to be addressed in a way that takes into account that development challenges and poverty in communities includes issues such as poor health, gender inequality, infrastructure and environmental protection.

If poverty-reduction strategies are to have comprehensive and durable outcomes, governments need to increasingly involve citizens of distressed communities to be engaged in public decisions and in the development of their communities.