More Kids in Poverty Now Than in Recession: Report

And it could have detrimental effects on brain development, researchers say
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2015 11:41 AM CDT
More Kids in Poverty Now Than in Recession: Report
In this April 8, 2015, photo, students are served breakfast at the Stanley Mosk Elementary School in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

The Great Recession may be long over, but things didn't pick up for everyone in the years immediately after, especially not for US children: A new report from the nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation says that while 18% of American kids lived below the poverty line in 2008, that number jumped to 22% in 2013, USA Today reports. (Per the US Census Bureau, the 2013 poverty line was $23,624 for a family of two adults and two children.) The report also found that one in four children lived in low-income housing in 2013, with "low income" categorized as such if a family spent more than 30% of its pre-tax income on housing, USA Today notes. Racial imbalances were also evident, with black, Hispanic, and Native American kids twice as likely to be living in poverty as white kids. "The fact that it's happening is disturbing on lots of levels," an associate director at the Casey Foundation tells USA Today. "Those kids often don't have the access to the things they need to thrive."

One of the more worrisome consequences for poor kids whose needs aren't met: long-lasting negative effects on brain development, notes a Washington University in St. Louis press release. In a study on how poverty affects the brain, published yesterday in JAMA Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers found that kids from low-income families had lower standardized test scores and irregular brain development, with child psychiatrist Joan Luby writing in the study's accompanying editorial that "early childhood interventions to support a nurturing environment for these children must now become our top public health priority for the good of all." One piece of good news: Luby says that, based on her studies, it appears that nurturing parents can "offset" some of the negative effects to a child's brain that may occur if the family lives in poverty. (Here's how kids could have a shot at breaking out of the poverty cycle.)

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