Poor kids hurt worst by economic downturn

From the Foundation for Child Development:

The first comprehensive report on the impact of the current recession on the overall health, well-being and quality of life of America’s children, released by the Foundation for Child Development (FCD), shows that the downturn will virtually undo all progress made in children’s economic well-being since 1975.

“Though our research proves what many of us know and see – that children suffer during a recession – the harm of this downturn is even greater than that of economic hardship. It will affect children socially and emotionally; it will affect their health and educational attainment,” said Kenneth Land, project coordinator of the Child Well-Being Index and a sociology professor and director of Duke University’s Center for Population Health and Aging. “The fact that we may actually reverse hard-won gains made over the last 35 years is alarming.”

Key findings from the report include:

• Decline in Social Connectedness: Children will experience substantial negative impacts on their peer and other neighborhood social relationships due to the severity of this housing crisis, which will force more low- and middle-income families to either move or become homeless.

• Health Decline: Though obesity has been on the rise for several years, it is now likely to spike even higher as the recession drives parents to rely more on low-cost fast food.

• Decline in Safety: Children are expected to fare worse due to higher rates of violent crime where youth are both victims and perpetrators. This is based on historic recessionary trends of budget cuts for policing and juvenile crime prevention.

• Education Decline: Fewer children will be able to participate in Pre-Kindergarten programs.

• Rise in Poverty Rate: The percentage of children in poverty is expected to peak at 21 percent in 2010, comparable to that of previous economic recessions.

• Decline in Family Income: For all families, median annual family income (in constant 2007 dollars) is expected to decline from $59,200 in 2007 to about $55,700 in 2010.

Read the press release.

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