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Paulette Parker

Digital Journalist - Blogger

Paulette is a blogger for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously interned as a reporter in the Michigan Radio newsroom.

Before working at Michigan Radio, she was the news editor of The Washtenaw Voice at Washtenaw Community College. She has an associate degree in journalism from WCC. And she is currently a junior at Eastern Michigan University, pursuing a bachelor's degree in media studies and journalism.

When she isn't working she is spending time with her husband and two young daughters.

boy listening to radio
Ian T. McFarland / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Earlier this week, my colleague Dustin Dwyer brought you Pushed Out: A documentary on housing in Grand Rapids, our final State of Opportunity documentary. 

While our five-year project is coming to an end, the issues facing low-income kids and families in Michigan aren't. If you want a deep dive into the challenges facing families in poverty, listen to a few of our past documentaries. 

police car
Scott Davidson / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

About 15 million children in the United States–21% of all kids–live in impoverished families. These kids are at higher risk for negative health outcomes like low birth weight, asthma, obesity and mental health problems.

Growing up poor is also a well-known risk factor for child abuse and neglect. And a recent study suggests that children in poor families also have a higher chance of dying from abuse.

Girl with statue reading book
Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

1. How poverty changes the brain | The Atlantic

We know living in poverty can have physical effects, like increased risk for asthma, obesity and hunger. But growing research suggests that the constant fear and stress experienced by many poor people actually rewires certain parts of the brain.

kid holding lunch tray
Tim Lauer / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

In the past few years, you may have heard the term "lunch shaming" being thrown around. It's basically the practice of penalizing students who don't have money to pay for their school lunch.

Lunch shaming has been the focus of recent news stories about cafeteria workers who have either quit their jobs because they refused to deny students hot lunches or were fired for giving free food to students who couldn't pay.

prison cell
Dave Nakayama / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Nearly 5 million children—or 7% of kids in the U.S.—have had a parent incarcerated at some point in their life.

Black children and children from disadvantaged families are the most likely to experience parental incarceration. And that can have significant consequences for their future development. 

Book and coffee
rawpixel.com / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Many of you may be looking forward to an extra day or two of rest due to the holiday weekend. It's a great time to catch up on these recent stories you may have missed.

The subtle brilliance of Sesame Street’s first episode starring an autistic Muppet | Vox

kid and school bus
Isabelle Acatauassu Alves Almeida / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

My husband and I will be sending our youngest daughter off to kindergarten this fall. I must admit, I'm nervous, but she turns five in July and we feel like she's ready for a structured learning environment.

African-American student and teacher
U.S. Department of Education / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Who did you most admire when you were a kid? Maybe it was your parent. Or a teacher. Or your favorite TV or movie star.

Role models, both positive and negative, help shape how children behave in school, relationships, and when making decisions.

Art museum
Pavel Bibiksarov / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Exposure to the arts improves a child's lifelong outcomes. Arts education increases the likelihood of graduating from high school; attending and finishing college; and makes students more likely to register to vote.

And having access to art and cultural resources may also improve key aspects of social well-being in disadvantaged neighborhoods, according to a recent study.

Graphic of a brain
A Health Blog / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Our experiences shape who we are.

Here at State of Opportunity, we've talked extensively about how Adverse Childhood Experiences—or ACEs—can affect a child throughout their lives. But new research suggests traumatic experiences in adulthood can be just as harmful.

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