The State of Childhood Poverty

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The State of Childhood Poverty
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Across the board children living in poverty in the US experience the largest disparities from school achievement to quality of health and health care, and these gaps have consistently increased since the 1960’s. In the 1960’s Kennedy, and later Johnson, declared the “War on Poverty”. Since then many non-profits, social workers and activists fed up with the limited success of the movement transitioned their efforts to “Education Reform”. Today, education reformers largely work to address issues of poverty. While the channeling of energy into schools is an important component in an effort to eliminate disparities in our poorest neighborhoods, it loses sight of the larger context and underlying causes of poverty. Further, a focus on fighting poverty through schools not only ignores the big picture and root causes, it compartmentalizes interventions and resources. I created this infographic to bring attention back to poverty and the multifaceted, permeating affects of growing up in an impoverished environment. As the data clearly show, poverty among our nation’s children is still the issue of our time. With this image I tried to capture the spirit of systems thinking to illustrate the complexity and ubiquity inherent in issues surrounding poverty and thus demonstrate the necessity for multidimensional interventions. I hope the graphic also brings attention the limited data available, at the national level, on early childhood and the home. This is important as research has consistently shown that the future success of children starts in the home and neighborhood environment, which reinforces achievement in school and compounds with quality teachers and learning environments. A safe and supportive home and community environment is the strongest predictor of future health and well-being of a child. The state of poverty in our families and neighborhoods permeates to other systems, crosses generations and is inextricably tied to our children’s success. Hope you enjoy.
I have been working for a year now as a research assistant at a small non-profit within a much larger hospital and research university. I help conduct research focused on maternal and child health and assist in the development of public health tools and interventions to assist children and families. At work and through my experiences I have learned the value (and challenge) of communicating complex data or research in a way that is both accurate and memorable. My substantive interests are in psychology, public health, and research and teaching methods, in which I will seek further education and (hopefully) develop a career. I am also fascinated by science communication, environmental effects on learning, behavior, health and the mind, and data visualization. I am gradually self-teaching and exploring these areas and hope to end up with some mix of all these interest in my future work.