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Reaching poor kids early could help break the cycle of generational poverty

Oct 21, 2016

More than one in five children in the U.S. lives in poverty. That's nearly 16 million kids.

And nearly twice as many experience poverty at some point during childhood.

Research shows poverty is the greatest threat to a child's well-being, and childhood poverty can have lifelong consequences.

Poor kids are more likely to live in substandard housing or experience homelessness, they often experience food insecurity and lack access to healthcare, and many deal with chronic stress.

Poverty has a particularly adverse effect on the academic outcomes of children, especially during early childhood. According to the Urban Institute:

Child poverty dims future academic success. Early poverty is linked to toxic stress, which can harm children’s brain development, lower IQ scores, and reduce academic achievement. Children who experience poverty between birth and age 2 are 30 percent less likely to graduate from high school than children who become poor later in childhood.

And as poor children grow older, the cycle of poverty can continue into future generations.

So how do we break the cycle? In the short video below, the Urban Institute explores some possible solutions:

You can check out a list of seven things you should know about childhood poverty from the Urban Institute here.