Poverty and Children

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					Poverty and Children
                   Julia Garten
   Consultation for Counselors
“Two students begin their educational future on the
  same day, in the same town, and at the same school.
  Their futures look bright with each appearing to have
  the same opportunity at being successful in
  progressing through school until graduation. The
  school provides the same teachers, books, meals,
  socialization, activities, and opportunities to each
  child. Yet one child will have a risk 6 times greater
  than me other of dropping out of school before
  reaching high school graduation because that child is
  from a low-income family,” (Johnson, 2009).
What is Poverty?
“Income poverty is the condition of not having
   enough income to meet basic needs for food,
   clothing, and shelter. Because children are
   dependent on others, they enter or avoid
   poverty by virtue of their family’s economic
   circumstances. Children cannot alter family
   conditions by themselves, at least until they
   approach adulthood,” (Gunn & Duncan, 1997
   In recent years, about one in five American children—
    some 12 to 14 million have lived in families in which cash
    income failed to exceed official poverty thresholds.
    Another one-fifth lived in families whose incomes were no
    more than twice the poverty threshold. For a small minority
    of children—4.8% of all children and 15% of children who
    ever became poor—childhood poverty lasted 10 years or
   Among children ages 6 through 11 in middle childhood, 42
    percent live in low-income families and 20 percent live in
    poor families.
   The percentage of children in middle childhood living in
    low-income families (both poor and near poor) has
    been on the rise – increasing from 39 percent in 2000 to
    42 percent in 2009.
   Children living below the poverty threshold are 1.3 times
    as likely as non-poor children to experience learning
    disabilities and developmental delays
Children living in poverty are more likely to:
   Physically: Experience learning disabilities and
    developmental delays Often have no health insurance so
    they lack preventative medical and dental care. Low birth
    weight, elevated blood lead levels, malnourished, lower
    caloric intake, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, obesity,
    higher risk for asthma, greater risk of injuries resulting
    from accidents or physical abuse/neglect
   Academically: score lower on standardized tests,
    absenteeism, reduced IQ, learning disabilities, grade
    retention, school dropout
   Emotionally: anxiety, depression, lower levels of sociability
    and initiative, problematic peer relations, experience peer
   Behaviorally: aggression, fighting, and acting out,
    disruptive classroom behaviors
   Environmentally: frequent moves, job loss or low wage
    jobs, unsafe neighborhoods, experience violent crime,
    exposure to crime and or drugs, lack of professional role
    models, single-parent families, and fewer opportunities
    outside their community
  What can counselors do within
  the school environment?
Understanding how low income affects child outcomes is
  important for the current generation as well as future

“School counselors have the opportunity to profoundly
  challenge and change the interactions between families in
  poverty and the educational system. Many parents in
  poverty have experienced previous challenges with school
  that have triggered them to become defensive when
  communicating with school personnel about their child.
  Because of the training school counselors receive on
  working with at-risk and low-socioeconomic populations,
  they have the opportunity to train other educators in ways
  that will reach children and families in poverty without
  further alienating them,” (Johnson, 2009).
What can counselors do within
the school environment cont…
Counselors can serve as a cultural bridge
    between families and teachers by:
1. sharing information that counters teachers'
    deficit views of poor families and blocking
    blaming of families
2. modeling how to reach out to families and
    build on their strengths
3. mediating between the conflicting cultural
    expectations of the home and the school.

   (Johnson, 2009)
 What can counselors do within
 the school environment cont…
Targeting students who display at-risk characteristics or
   at-risk factors through early interventions and
   prevention programs is the best way to reduce the
   chance that an at-risk student will drop out.

General areas of concern for counselors specific to
   meeting the needs of at-risk students identified in the
   research studies were:
   -providing opportunities for career exploration
   -providing small-group counseling for developing
   academic and behavior skills
   -promoting parental involvement
   -promoting school connectedness
What can counselors do within
the school environment cont…
   One key resource for success in school and at work is an
    understanding of the hidden rules.
   “Hidden rules are the unspoken cueing system that individuals use
    to indicate membership in a group,” (Payne,

1. Middle class rule: work and achievement tend to be the driving forces
     on decision making
     generational poverty rule: survival entertainment and relationships
     tend to be the driving forces on decision making

   The recommended approach is simply teach the student that he/she
    needs a set of rules that brings success in school and at work and a
    different set that brings success outside of school,” (Payne,

    Ex: Children growing up in generational poverty are likely to laugh
    when disciplined (to save face) SO explain that if an employee laughs
    at a boss when being disciplined, he would probably get fired.
What can counselors do within
the school environment cont…
   The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the
    School Breakfast Program (SBP) are federally
    sponsored nutrition programs operating daily in the
    nation’s schools.
   All public and private nonprofit elementary and
    secondary schools are eligible to participate- almost
    all public schools participate
   Children receive free, reduced-price, or “full-price”
    meals, depending on their family’s size and income
   The NSLP is available to 92% of all students in the
    country, and on a typical school day, 56% of those
    students to whom school lunches are available
    (Devaney, Ellwood & Love, 1997)
“NSLP lunches are planned to provide approximately
  one-fourth of the RDA, and each breakfast must
  include a serving of fluid milk, a serving of either fruit
  or vegtable or a full-strength fruit or vegetable juice,
  and two servings of either bread or meat or their
  alternates. In addition, recent legislation mandated
  that schools participating in the NSLP and SBP
  meet the goals in the Dietary Guidelines for
  Americans for lower fat content in school meals by
  the 1996–97 school year,” (Devaney, Ellwood &
  Love, 1997).
Devaney, B.L, Ellwood, M.R., & Love, J.M. (1997). Programs that
  mitigate the effects of poverty on children. The Future of
  Children, 7(2), Retrieved from

Gunn, J.B., & Duncan, G.J. (1997). The effects of poverty on
  children. The Future of Children, 7(2), Retrieved from

Johnson, A.F. (2009). What we know about at-risk students:
  important considerations for principal and counselor
  leadership. NASSP Bulleti, 93(2), Retrieved from

Payne, R. (1995). Poverty: A framework for understanding and
  working with students and adults from poverty. Baytown, TX:
  RFT Publishing

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