According to the NationalCenter for Children in Poverty about 15 million children in the United States –21% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal povertythreshold. Experiencing life with poverty can have lasting affects on a person.There are many factors that may lead to a person living in poverty. Below theaffect of childhood poverty regarding different aspects of development, howliving in poverty during childhood affects health outcomes and explore someinterventions to help ease the expanding number of children living in povertyconditions.
A person’s socioeconomic status influences a way anindividual develops. The child’s caregiver plays a large role in the child’sdevelopment. Nutrition is a necessity to develop appropriately and “caregiverswho are not sensitive to developmental changes in infants’ nutritional needs,neglectful caregivers, and conditions of poverty can contribute to thedevelopment of eating problems in infants” (Santrock, 2016). A lack of interestin proper nutrition of a child can lead to either obesity or a malnourishedchild, both having their own long-term effects on the child’s health. Thechild’s caregiver may have a diminished interest in the child’s developmentalneeds due to constantly being away from the child at work to earn money toprovide additional necessities. A lack of presence by a caregiver can delayspeech development as they are not receiving needed communication interaction.Child’s cognitive development may also suffer as they have no or poorreferences on how to deal with stress.
Often, it is not intentional, but thecaregiver is doing the best they can to continue to provide for the child. Povertyis a leading factor to children being malnourished; “one of the most commonnutritional problems in early childhood is iron deficiency anemia, whichresults in chronic fatigue” (Santrock, 2016). Due to constant feeling of beingtired these children may not be getting the amount of exercise they need tokeep up their physical stature. “The poor often experience hunger,malnutrition, illness, inadequate access to health care, unsafe water, and alack of protection from harm” (Santrock, 2016) which all can lead to healthconcerns later in life. A child’s experience during their early years of life”can influence patterns of illness, aging, and mortality later in life (Wise,2016). Studies have been completed that link childhood socioeconomic status andmental health later in life. During the early years of life “social isolationand bulling during childhood can also affect the risk for adult depression andrelated disorders” (Wise, 2016). What we experience as children influence howwe act and behave as adults.
Many adults that have problems can relate theonset to something from their past. Events often found in families in povertythat can influence adulthood behaviors include parental maltreatment, parentaldivorce, problems with early attachment, and substance abuse (Wise, 2016).Being exposed to not so great living conditions of the less fortunate can causechanges in immunology due to the environmental contamination they were exposedto, which could lead to asthma or other endocrine issues. There are “approximately30% of all children have some form of chronic health problem; approximately 15%require an increased use of health care services and approximately 7.5% have acondition that limits usual activities” (Wise, 2016) that follow the individualinto adulthood. This increase of children with more chronic diseases followingthem into adulthood has led to a change healthcare and how we look atprevention or treatment during childhood. As a nation we should not give up hope on our futuregeneration, as there are interventions we can put in place to help ease theirtribulations. Schubert & James mentioned a few interventions to include”medical coverage, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, andsubsidized housing, can directly mitigate and reduce poverty” (2016).
However,the problem with some of these programs is that if a family or individualrelies or needs these programs earn slightly more than the requirement thenthey become ineligible even though they are still in need. Another suggestionwould be frequent coaching and counseling for those who may be suffering frominadequate housing, food insecurity, and money (Schubert & James, 2016).Having someone that continually shows compassion and care about their wellbeingcan help that person feel more confident and hopeful about the futurepossibilities. A major gap in creating a shift in downsizing the childhoodpoverty epidemic is that the parents or caregivers do not have the resourcesnecessary to do so.
To transform poverty’s influence in early life into adulthealth problems they would need access to effective interventions. There hasbeen a positive step forward by the federal government, with Project HeadStart, which helps kids in low-income families gain the skills needed to havethe right foot forward in school (Santrock, 2015) There may be many children currentlyliving in poverty, but that doesn’t need to hold them back. A person’s pastwill always influence how they are as an adult, but for those who started inpoverty with the assistance of some interventions can turn their futuresaround. How a child living in poverty develops does not have to stop them frombreaking the cycle, there are ways that poverty will influence their heath asan adult, but there are also programs and interventions to help change theoutcome. Schubert and James said it best with “our future as a nation is tiedto the success of these children. We need to make sure that all children havethe opportunity to succeed, and children whose family circumstances are morechallenging need more help” (2016).