Monday, February 15, 2010

Poverty's Cost Starts Early

Poverty's devastating effect on children's well-being is well-documented. A recent study by Child Trends indicates that the "achievement gap" emerges even before a child's first birthday.

Income-based disparities in cognitive, social, behavioral, and health outcomes appear as early as 9 months and are magnified by 24 months. For example, infants and toddlers from low-income families score lower on a language skills assessment than children from higher-income families. Young children from high-risk backgrounds—i.e., children from racial/ethnic minority groups, whose home language was not English, and/or who had mothers with low maternal education—also have lower outcomes.

The study suggests four policy implications:

1. Start early. Since differences in development can already be detected as early as nine months, interventions also need to start as early as infancy.

2. Target low-income children. Recognize the impact of poverty on children's development and reach out to children in high-risk families.

3. Engage and support parents. Since low maternal education is a key risk factor, children will benefit from providing parents with opportunities to achieve their own educational and vocational goals.

4. Improve the quality of early care settings. High-quality child care and early education (whether in child care centers or at home) can help overcome these demographic risk factors.

See an executive summary of the study, and read Marian Wright Edelman's commentary, Leaving the Littlest Ones Behind.

2 comments:

Tina said...

There are millions of children who have to go to bed on an empty stomach. Let’s all Stand Up against poverty in 2010.I am supporting this campaign & would like you to do the same. You can join the campaign on http://www.facebook.com/unmcampaignINDIA & http://twitter.com/unmcampaignIND

Tina said...

Millions of children have to go to bed on an empty stomach. Let’s all Stand Up against poverty in 2010.I am supporting this campaign & would like you to do the same. You can join the campaign on http://www.facebook.com/unmcampaignINDIA & http://twitter.com/unmcampaignIND