Poverty and Children’s Brains – there is an affect!

Association of Child Poverty, Brain Development, and Academic Achievement

Poverty is tied to structural differences in several areas of the brain associated with school readiness skills, with the largest influence observed among children from the poorest households. Regional gray matter volumes of children below 1.5 times the federal poverty level were 3 to 4 percentage points below the developmental norm (P < .05). A larger gap of 8 to 10 percentage points was observed for children below the federal poverty level (P < .05). These developmental differences had consequences for children’s academic achievement. On average, children from low-income households scored 4 to 7 points lower on standardized tests (P < .05). As much as 20% of the gap in test scores could be explained by maturational lags in the frontal and temporal lobes.

Translation:

Being poor puts kids behind from the beginning!

seeing is believing 027

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Shame, humiliation and lack of inclusion: Invisible barriers to addressing inequalities

Mon, October 7, 2013

Shannon OShea wrote about invisible barriers to the elimination of poverty after attending a one-day workshop: Knowledge from Experience: Building the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda with People Living in Extreme Poverty. [1]  The purpose of the workshop was to showcase a number of participatory research project case studies facilitated by the non-governmental organization ATD-Fourth World and their partners.

She concluded … as the discussions on the Post-2015 Development Agenda advance, they will increasing shift from “the what” (goals, targets and indicators) to “the how” (planning, implementation and monitoring).  In thinking about “the how” we must consider how to involve all stakeholders at the local, national and international levels in all aspects of advancing progress on Post-2015 goals and principles.  Innovations in technology can assist greatly (e.g. SMS-based polling, low cost video capturing) alongside more traditional, “low tech” solutions (e.g. open town hall meetings).

If we do not include all people – especially those living in poverty or otherwise marginalized — we risk the likelihood of sub-par, ineffective or inefficient initiatives that can sometimes create more problems than solutions for the very people they are aiming to serve.  This has adverse effects not only for those living in extreme poverty but for all people and the planet.

Next week on Thursday the 17th October, we will mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the theme of which for 2013 is: Working together towards a world without discrimination: building on the experience and knowledge of people in extreme poverty.  As we think about this theme and what it means practically, we must demand that societies be judged on and held accountable for their ability to provide lives of dignity for all members, including those living in extreme poverty and those who are the most marginalized.  The shame, humiliation and exclusion that our most vulnerable often face in attempting to exercise their rights or make a better life for themselves and their families should be asource of shame for us, not for them.

Go to http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/399901 to see her full blog.

10 Things You Might Not Know About Poverty In Canada

17 October 2013

In 1993, the UN designated October 17 the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, and later adopted the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger as the core of its Millennium Development Goals. The theme for this year is “Working together towards a world without discrimination: Building on the experience and knowledge of people in extreme poverty.”

To mark the day, here are some things about poverty in Canada that you might not know:

10. It’s hard to measure

There is no official measure of poverty in Canada. Statistics Canada reports that 14.9 per cent of Canadians have “low income” (i.e. make less than half the median income) but declines to label that group “poor.” Low income is only one way of measuring poverty, though; another is the “basic needs poverty measure,” which looks at the absolute minimum resources needed to fulfill physical well-being. The “market basket measure,” created by the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, takes a similar approach with a broader range of goods and services, estimating the disposable income needed to meet basic needs. In 2008, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) noted that poverty had been steadily rising in Canada since the mid-1990s.

9. It varies widely between different groups

Regardless of how you try to measure poverty, certain groups are worse off than others. A study by the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that Aboriginal Canadians make about 30 per cent less than the rest of Canadians. Other groups more likely to be affected by poverty include lone parents, recent immigrants, people with disabilites and seniors, according to Statistics Canada.

8. Child poverty is high in Canada

Canada ranks behind the average in a recent UNICEF survey of child poverty in rich nations. According to the report, 13.3 per cent of Canadian children live in poverty, compared to 11 per cent across the 35 “economically advanced countries” studied. According to one studyhalf of First Nations children in Canada live in poverty.

7. It’s a significant burden on the economy

Poverty can exert extra health care, crime and social assistance costs. According to an estimate from the Ontario Association of Food Banks, poverty costs that province betwen 5.5 and 6.6 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product. That same report pegs the national health care costs attributable to poverty at $7.6 billion.

6. Many Canadians spend too much on shelter

In 1986, the federal and provincial governments established a threshold of housing affordability set at 30 per cent of a resident’s monthly income. By that standard, a full quarter — or 3.3 million households — in Canada are paying more than they should on housing, according to data from the National Household Survey released this year.

5. Poverty can shorten your life

An analysis by The Hamilton Spectator showed that there was a 21-year gap in life expectancy between that city’s richest and poorest neighbourhoods.

4. Many don’t have enough to eat

According to Food Banks Canada, nearly 900,000 Canadians are assisted by food banks each month. Thirty-eight per cent of those helped by food banks are children and youth and 11 per cent are Aboriginal (compared to 4.3 per cent of the total population).

3. Homelessness is widespread

As many as 200,000 Canadians will experience homelessness each year, according to a recent report from the Canadian Homelessness Research Network. On any given night, about 30,000 Canadians are homeless.

2. Debt levels are on the rise

Last month, Statistics Canada reported that the Canadian household debt-to-income ratio had climbed to a new high of 163.4 per cent — in other words, the average Canadian owes $1.63 for every dollar they earn.

1. Early investment can yield big dividends

2008 report from the Public Health Agency of Canada argues that reducing child poverty can have huge spillover effects on society. “It is estimated that $1 invested in the early years saves between $3 and $9 in future spending on the health and criminal justice systems, as well as on social assistance,” the report says.