Report: Child Homelessness Increased by Over 1/3 During the Recession

Over one and half million children (1 in 45) are homeless in America according to the December 2011 report, America’s Youngest Outcasts 2010, from The National Center on Family Homelessness. According to the data, during the latest recession – 2007 to 2010, homelessness among children increase by 38 percent, with just 5 states reporting a decrease in child homelessness during this period of time.

Pennsylvania ranked 9th (out of 50, with 1 being best and 50 being worst) in extent of child homelessness and risk of child homelessness, and 21st in child well being, as well as in planning and policy efforts around child homelessness. The composite state ranking for Pennsylvania (11th) and all other states is detailed at the National Center on Family Homelessness website.

The complete report as well as information about the Campaign to End Child Homelessness can be found at the National Center on Family Homelessness website.

Nurturing as a Protective Factor

Being a good parent may protect your children from the long-term health effects of poverty, according to a study published in the November 2011 edition of Psychological Science, the journal from the Association for Psychological Science.

The researchers found that children who had been raised in poverty often experienced chronic health issues later in life, however, a small subset of low-income children remained healthy throughout their lives. Closer examination of various factors identified a high level of maternal nurturing as the primary barrier or protective factor against chronic health problems, even more than achieving a higher socioeconomic status as an adult. Clearly, data and long-term outcomes support concern for the emotional well being of children, making it as important as care for their physical needs. Children benefit from being raised in a loving, safe, stable environment.

The study abstract is available online but the full article can only be accessed through a subscription service (check your local or university library system).

Study citation: Miller GE, Lachman ME, Chen E, Gruenewald TL, Karlamangla AS, Seeman TE.
Pathways to Resilience: Maternal Nurturance as a Buffer Against the Effects of
Childhood Poverty on Metabolic Syndrome at Midlife. Psychol Sci. 2011 Nov 28.
[Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22123777.

Childhood Poverty on the Rise in the United States

Adding to the bleakness of the anemic economic and employment outlook, stock market “adjustments”, riots in the streets of London and protests against economic conditions in Israel, comes the news that child poverty in the United States increased nearly 10 percent between 2008 and 2009, according to the latest data from the Children’s Defense Fund.

In the report, The State of America’s Children 2011, the CDF presents some unsettling data that indicate segments of the population are falling further behind, putting the current well-being (and the futures) of their children at risk. The report finds children of color are trailing in a majority of child well-being indicators, and

  • are more likely to be born to mothers who have received little to no prenatal care,
  • are more likely to live in poverty (1 in 3 black children and 1 in 3 Hispanic children versus 1 in 10 white children),
  • are more likely to live with domestic upheaval (including separation from one or both parents), and
  • are over-represented in the child welfare system.

Facts and discussion on child nutrition, education, juvenile justice and numerous other indicators are included in the complete report, available for download and in an interactive format at the CDF website.

Increased Need and Decreased Budgets – Not the Recipe for Efficiency

A brief from the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute highlights fallout from the trend of states slashing human service budgets at a time when programs are experiencing an increase in participation.  Data from the University of Baltimore indicate the workload grew by 45 percent at some state social service programs between 2002 and 2010 – the same years a hiring freeze and subsequent cuts were implemented. The irony for families who have been waiting weeks or months for emergency aid to be approved is that the same economic woes that led to their need for temporary assistance also led to the elimination of program case managers and staff.

In Maryland, the results of an all cuts budget on such programs are a reduction in staff training, reliance on antiquated information technology systems, an increased workload and uneven distribution of staff.  While trimming the budgetary fat and eliminating waste should be encouraged across ALL departments, the report links cuts to delays and errors in determining program eligibility, as well as other inefficiencies.

As Pennsylvania’s budget is also an all cuts piece of legislation at a time of increasing need, this report may foretell what we will experience as the unintended (I hope) consequences of such measures. How is your nonprofit meeting the challenge of serving more people with fewer resources? Has efficiency suffered due to lack of staff, training or technological resources?

The complete brief, Report Shows Several Local Departments do Social Services Dramatically Understaffed: Nearly 1100 Family Investment Staff Needed to Manage Workload, is available at the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute’s web page.