The Problem of Poverty and Child Development

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Poverty can undermine a child’s development including educational outcomes that start to take effect in the earliest stages of life, either directly and indirectly through moderated, mediated and transactional processes. Various renowned authors have come up with the definition of poverty. According to hutchison definition of poverty it is a condition in which an infant or toddler cannot get enough nutritional food, quality education, proper healthcare, access to safe water, electricity or various other much needed services. In addition to this, infants and toddlers engulfed in poverty are more likely to evolve psychological and behavioral problems than those not engulfed in poverty (hutchison, 2015).

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More often children’s suffering from poverty suffers adverse health related consequences like poor nutritional value and inadequate access healthcare system. The typical outcomes of poverty line may include deprived access to education; poor housing and living conditions and increased exposure to various contagious diseases. Intense poverty is likely the cause of increased chaos in society as the issue of poverty often lead to rising crime rates in communities affected by them as they demand better living. According to unicef researchers, poverty is at the peak with increase in its rate due to growing population, around the world, from african nations like chad mali to european nations like romania or asian giants like india, china and war-torn afghanistan, even developed countries like united states is affected by poverty to some extent. (hutchison, 2015). It is estimated that out of 7.7 billion people more than 3.3 billion people including 1 billion children around the world live in poverty. The development of this children’s living in poverty is severely undermined resulting in various malnutrition related diseases. (hutchison, 2015).

For example, the overall expenditure of the united states has a huge portion towards policies that actively uplifts the living standards of people suffering from poverty although not all areas of poverty are addressed. People living in poverty suffer from poor health conditions, intensified family problems, higher crime rates, and various other un addressed issues, while the nation spends billions of dollars to address them. In fact, childhood poverty has been estimated to cost the united states’ economy an estimated $500 billion annually and the problem leads to, high rate of unemployment, low-wage employment, higher crime rates, and physical and physiological health problems (eckholm, 2007). If united states manages to decrease the poverty rate compared to many other democracies then it could save billions of dollars in tax payers’ money.

“Life course researchers are finding strong evidence for the malleability of risk factors and the possibilities for preventive interventions” (kellam & van horn, 1997). With attention to the diversity in life course trajectories, the life course perspective provides a good conceptual framework for culturally competent practice. And finally, the life course perspective lends itself well to research that looks at cumulative advantage and disadvantage, contributes to what we already know about the effect of power and privilege, and suggesting strategies for social justice (hutchison, 2015).

The concept of resilience in ecology has been inflated into a framework to analyze human-environment dynamics. The enlargement of resilience notions that society has pivotal limits, particularly its conceptualization of social change. The paper argues that this stems from the lack of attention to normative and epistemological issues underlying the notion of ‘social resilience’. It is suggested that critically examining the role of knowledge at the intersections between social and environmental dynamics helps to address normative questions and capture how power and competing value systems are not external to, but rather integral to, the development and functioning of “social ecological system”. System theory emphasizes at a child’s development with the context of the system of relationships that form his or her environment (folke, 2006).

Bronfenbrenner’s theory defines complex “layers” of environment, each influencing a child’s development. This theory has recently been recalled or renamed as the “bio ecological systems theory” to emphasize that a child’s own biology is a vital environment powering his or her development. The interaction between factors in the child’s maturing biology, his or her immediate family/community surroundings, and the societal landscape powers and steers his or her development. Drastic changes or conflict in any one layer will ripple throughout other layers. For studying a child’s development then, we must look not only at the child and her immediate surroundings, but also at the interaction of the larger surrounding environment as well (ryan, 2000)

Risk factors

Various risk factors that social workers are likely to encounter in work with young children and their families are homelessness, ineffective poverty, discipline, divorce, and violence. Almost 20% of infants and toddlers are immune compromised. Poverty in the form of the lack of insecurity, inadequate healthcare, food and overcrowded living conditions present considerable risk to children’s growth and development. Studies have indicated that young children reared in poverty are significantly delayed in language and other cognitive skills (locke, ginsborg, & pers, 2002)

being homeless almost half of school-age children and over one-fourth of children under five are known to suffer from depression, anxiety or aggression after becoming homeless. (hutchison, 2015). More than one-fifth of homeless children ages 3-6 years old have emotional problems serious enough to require professional care. Learning disabilities in homeless children are twice as likely as poor housed children have, and three times as likely to have emotional and behavioral problems. Family violence has been the fate of nearly half of school-aged homeless children witnessed such a catastrophe, and two in every ten of these children become homeless as adults (hutchison, 2015). Homelessness children living on streets are physically abused at twice the rate of other children (hutchison, 2015).

Kristen paquette and ellen badduk (2009) many studies have shown that parent’s identities are often closely tied to relationships they maintain, especially with their children, and that homelessness undermines their ability to protect those they have a responsibility to protect. Unlike all parents, homeless parents wish to facilitate their children with at least basic necessities. Being homeless present dramatic barriers and challenges for parents, who too often lose the ability to provide essentials for their children, including shelter, food and access to education.

Protective factors

Resiliency during the infant and toddler years is equally relevant during the early childhood years. Other protective factors also come into play as shown by a study by jenson & franser. (2011). A child’s ability to strive can be directly correlated to both his and her surroundings and caregiver attachment/interaction. Mary ainsworth’s theory of attachment can explain the intricacies of infant and toddler development. Ainsworth broadly classified this into three different types of attachment: avoidant/ambivalent, anxious, and secure. Later on, a fourth type of attachment called : insecure/disorganized was added to the list attachment (hutchinson, 2015). Of these types, the ideal attachment style, is secure. A secure attachment is found when the mother/caregiver is attentive and responsive to the child’s need. Psychological and social support helps young children in several ways (jenson & franser, 2011). Having a consistent and supporting aunt, uncle, or preschool teacher who can set firm but loving limits, for example, may buffer the effects of a parent with ineffective skills. At the community level, preschools, religious programs, and the like may help to enhance physical and cognitive skills, self-esteem, and social development. Positive parent-child relationships with at least one parent helps children to feel secure and nurtured (jenson & franser, 2011). Effective parenting promotes self-efficacy and self-esteem and provide young toddlers and children with a model of how they can take start within healthy boundaries (jenson & franser, 2011).

Conclusions and future studies

Social workers can play vital role in uplifting the status and diverting attention towards children’s affected with extreme poverty. Although there are children already experiencing difficulties with development, i believe social worker should be able to look at what those children are experiencing problems in securing even the daily essential necessities.i believe for a poor and homeless toddler or child “happiness can come only in the form of bread” determining what’s happening to get them there, and start thinking of a way to support and be an advocate for those children who are in poverty, or suffering from inadequate caregiving. By being proactive and advocating for children in poverty and those suffering from inadequate caregiving, social worker are providing an opportunity for children who are born into those types of situations to not have negative developmental consequences due to the surrounding environment in which they were born and reduce their suffering by bringing them out of such complex life chapters. They are paying heavy price only because their parents are incapable of nurturing them. Social work involves making tough judgments about risk to individuals, and at times, social workers have to use their ability and influence to protect the victims of poverty from themselves or others. For instances situations of child abuse, domestic violence, or mental health. Social workers’ long history of striving with people in poverty situations and witnessing their changing behavior illustrates the vital integrating theories about professional values that respect values of the people and their choices and decisions. Social workers also have a responsibility to ensure that social conditions that contribute to economic inequalities, unjust policies, and practices are challenged and violations are abolished. This includes, but is not limited to, making sure that those most in need receive resources first, and that the resources offered are distributed fairly. Social workers can also try to intervene and help these families gain access to resources they need in order to alleviate the stress associated with living in poverty. Additionally, if increases in income can help improve child development, we can advocate for continued or additional funding for policies like the food stamps, child tax credit or (duncan, magnuson, & votruba-drzal, 2014). Children’s growing in poverty has a hope. The hope for better life and safer world.

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The Problem of Poverty and Child Development. (2019, Dec 10). Retrieved from