Poverty is something that every country can relate to but especially within the United States in this day and time. There is an enormous difference when it comes to being in poverty and what we consider being higher up or the so called rich.
Introduction: Causes of Poverty
Poverty has been around for hundreds of years and has not been able to go away completely. David Maume along with others wrote a book regarding child poverty and stated, “The necessity of addressing the fact that the measurement of poverty is problematic, and thus alternative definitions or approaches must be used to define poverty, and who is poor” (Maume et al. 2017 pg 3). Being poor can have different meanings to different people but when a family is in poverty, this does not only affect the family as a whole but it also affects children within the household. Child poverty is becoming more common in the US. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty about 21% of children are in poverty. When a child is in poverty they are prone to more diseases, poor nutrition, less health care quality, and so much more. This essay will focus on the history of poverty but more specifically how this affects children and the outcome of their lives.
The American Sociological Association stated, “Poverty and economic deprivation among American children deserve special attention for several reasons” (Eggebeen et al. 1991, pg 802). The US has exceeded poverty rates for children compared to other western developed nations. This article goes on to then talk about the different living arrangements of American children and how this affects the outcome of poverty for these specific children in the household. Poverty can affect the child’s physical health along with their mental health as well. Each household considered to be in poverty, is made up of different people inside. Some families only have a single mother while some just a single father, and this affects the child and their upbringing as well. “The percentage of American children living in female-headed families increased from 8 percent to over 20 percent. Roughly 45 percent of female-headed families falling below official poverty thresholds” (Eggebeen et al. 1991, pg 802). This shows that although race is a factor that contributes to child poverty rates as well, gender is also a factor too.
Vanessa Wight from Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care stated, “Research shows a majority of both low-income and middle-income families with children do not have enough financial assets to cope with negative income shocks associated with sudden job loss, illness, death of a parent, or natural disaster” (Wight 2010, pg 266). The class category a family is associated with, typically leads the child into that same category. As you go through life, different circumstances come up and can leave the family not knowing where to move next. This is almost always the case when poverty is involved. When a child is exposed to child poverty the consequences that come along with it are lifelong. Studies show that poverty on children can lead to bad health, lower educational outcomes, sometimes an increase in criminal behavior, and continued poverty rates for their future family.
Bernard Dreyer et al. examined and looked into what the United States is doing to reduce the rates of child poverty. They stated, “What is the United States presently doing to reduce child poverty and ameliorate the impact of poverty on child health and well-being? Furthermore, what additional policies and program would be important? (Deryer et al. 2016, pg 3). These are such relevant questions to think about especially when thinking of child poverty because it is a situation beyond our control that has not been changed. There are ways and organizations we can look into to try and help minimize the families and children that are in poverty. In addition, there are so many intervention programs out there now that are not working as well as one would hope so what can we ultimately do to change that and improve them?
Children Incorporated Foundation
Fixing child poverty for good is a long shot because it is something that has been going on for years and years and has not ever gone away. Children Incorporated is an international nonprofit organization that assists children without looking at race. This organization was founded in 1964 and has been going strong ever since. The goal of this foundation is to attend to children’s needs whether it be physical, emotional, or educational. This organization supports poverty children by taking two kinds of approaches. The first is through child sponsorships and the second is through special funds. Different people, charities, or schools for example can donate to Children Incorporated and they will get the satisfaction of being there to support the children involved in this organization. What happens here is that donors from all around the world can donate $30 a month to help support these children that are in families below the poverty line. Going off of that, this foundation has earned a GuideStar’s Platinum Seal of Transparency by showing what this organization has done and the things it has accomplished.
Children Incorporated is a great foundation, but I noted a slight adjustment that could potentially take it even further in helping children that are in poverty. The organization is all about finding people to donate and then using that money to help support the children and families that are in poverty. What would take this organization further is to have actual meetings with the children as long as distance was not a factor. There are 20,000 children being served as of 2018 and there are over 300 projects in more than 20 countries around the world. The corporation behind Child Incorporated could take this organization a step further and find out which donators are in close proximity to a child in poverty. Of course, this would be completely optional to the donors, it would make a big difference in the child’s life. Having the donors meet and speak to the child every week or whenever they have the time could really impact the child in a positive way.
For example, if a child in poverty was from New York City, Children Incorporated would look into the donors from the New York City area and find a match. They would then send out a message or an email to the donor with the child’s information and things they could do to get to know them better. The donor could send the clothing and supplies directly to the child with a note or postcard attached telling them about themselves and getting to know them on a more personal level. In addition, this could also work if a match is not close in proximity because they could still have the donor send the items to the child personally. Getting the donor to do this instead of the organization as a whole will let the donor see how their donations are being used. If the donor lives far or the child’s parents do not feel comfortable letting their child participant in this addition to the organization, they could write letters, talk on the phone, or even email if this works for the family. From the child’s perspective, this can help them form a strong bond and relationship with someone new and not from their kind of lifestyle.
There are many pros and cons when it comes to this intervention. Some of the pros would be that the child would get to form a strong bond with someone outside their family. Children in poverty could often be shut out from society and sometimes not have many friends. Having someone to talk about things and provide for them and their families could make a huge difference in a child’s life. Another pro would be that this child is benefitting from the donations given to them. With this money, the child would be able to have proper clothing, food, shelter, etc. Another pro of this intervention regarding Children Incorporated is that the donor would get to see how their donation is making a difference in their assigned child’s life. Being a role model and someone the child can look up to is a big responsibility and the donor would get to take full advantage of this. One last advantage to this intervention is that it will help children in poverty situations cope with this. Having an outlet and someone to turn to will help not only improve a child’s mood, but also help them cope with other things in life. When children are exposed to poverty at such a young age, this can potentially affect their everyday life like school for example. A child may not try and succeed in school and they may blame this on their family being below the poverty line. Having something to look forward to like writing letters or talking face to face with their donor is something they can keep in the back of their mind and its sort of like a reward and a break from reality.
On the other hand, although this intervention is a great add on to the already existing organization, there can be some cons to this. Some donors might prefer to stay secret and not want to be able to write, speak, or even see the child that is in poverty. Some of these children have sad backgrounds and life stories and not every donor would want to witness this first hand. Another con could potentially be that the child does not want to make their poverty so known. Being a part of this intervention shows others that their life is truly in poverty. Although poverty is so common today, it is also something that some families cannot escape no matter how much they might try and hide it. Lastly, another con to this intervention could be that it may not overall help to stop poverty. This intervention is more of a way to help children cope with the fact that they are among child poverty. Essentially this intervention could help slow inequality but it may not help work towards the cause of stopping it altogether which could be the most important disadvantage of the donor intervention.
In conclusion, child poverty is something that will not go away overnight. Children are affected by this every day and helping them cope and live a happier life is an outcome we can try to achieve. Like I stated earlier, when a child is in poverty they are open to developing more diseases, having a poor nutrition, having less access to quality health care, and more. An adaptation to the Children Incorporated Foundation can help children have a better outlook on life, and more specifically their life. With this in mind, increasing the child’s household income is a step in the right direction to help alleviate families in need to financial support. Looking deep into the history of child poverty and the outcomes it is having on children today is a step towards the future. Lastly, adding to this Child Incorporated organization using my evaluation of child donor meetings, will only help benefit these families and more importantly the children in need.
- “About Children Incorporated.” Children Incorporated, childrenincorporated.org/about/.
- Child Poverty. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nccp.org/topics/childpoverty.html
- Dreyer, B., Chung, P., Szilagyi, P., & Wong, S. (2016). Child Poverty in the United States Today: Introduction and Executive Summary. Academic Pediatrics, 16(3), S1–S5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acap.2016.02.010
- Eggebeen, D., & Lichter, D. (1991). Race, Family Structure, and Changing Poverty Among American Children. American Sociological Review, 56(6), 801-817. Retrieved March 5, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/2096257
- Moynihan, D. (1991, December 26). Child Poverty in the U.S. Continues to Grow. New York Times (1923-Current File), p. A24. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/108700538/
- Rating for Children Incorporated. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3478
- Real Life Productions (Producer), &. (2010). Child poverty: Challenge and aspiration. [Video/DVD] Teachers TV/UK Department of Education. Retrieved from https://video-alexanderstreet-com.proxy.libraries.rutgers.edu/watch/child-poverty-challenge-and-aspiration
- Maume, D. J., & Arrighi, B. A. (2007). Child Poverty in America Today. Greenwood Publishing Group.
- Wight, V., Chau, M., Thampi, K., & Aratani, Y. (2010). Examining the Landscape of Child Poverty in the US Today. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, 40(10), 263–266. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cppeds.2010.08.003