For children living in poverty, receiving high-quality child care can be an enormous challenge. From transportation to lack of awareness about opportunities, children living in poverty often fall behind academically, socially, and emotionally—and this disadvantage can have a lasting impact on their lives.
Many of the challenges children in poverty face could be alleviated by universal access to high-quality child care programs that are both conveniently located and affordable to low-income families.
Although there are various definitions of poverty, data from the National Center for Children in Poverty is based on the federal poverty threshold (FPT). The NCCP defines low income as families who are below 100 percent and between 100 and 199 percent of the federal poverty threshold (FPT).
The FPT, however, is far below the income that most families need to thrive. In 2019, the federal poverty guideline was $25,750 for a family of four—which means that four people living together with a combined annual income below $25,750 would be considered a family living in poverty. This guideline, however, applies to the entire country—and does not take into account the major geographic differences in the cost of housing and other expenses.
According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, there are 74.1 million children under the age of 18 years in the United States; 38 percent of those children live in low-income families. Of the 15 million children under the age of 9, 40 percent are deemed low-income.
In 2019, 1 in 5 North Carolinians under the age of 18, or over 430,000 children, lived in poverty; of that group, the poverty rate for children under the age of 5 was the highest for any age group at 22 percent. In Onslow County, the numbers are more staggering: 49.2 percent of children in our community live in poor or low-income homes.
Living in poverty has a wide range of negative effects on a child’s mental, physical, and emotional health. Studies have shown that children who are living in poverty are at a greater risk for poor academic achievement, abuse and neglect, behavioral and socioemotional problems, developmental delays, and more.
These outcomes are linked to the fact that the first 2,000 days of a child’s life is the single most significant period of development. 90 percent of a child’s brain growth occurs between birth and the age of 3, making an early childhood education program that nurtures a child’s development absolutely vital.
Three landmark studies—the Chicago Child-Parent Centers, the Abecedarian program in North Carolina, and the High/Scope Perry Preschool in Michigan discovered that children who attended high-quality preschools did significantly better as adults in numerous ways: economic performance, health, education, and criminal record.
High-quality child care programs are the backbone of our communities—in Onslow County and beyond. Unfortunately, families with young children who live in poverty face many barriers and challenges—from access to affordability.
One Place is dedicated to helping families in Onslow County thrive through a number of programs:
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