It is well-established that poverty leads to poor outcomes for children. Dr. Joan Luby of Washington University says, "We've known for decades that poverty is the most robust predictor of bad outcomes for children." That hasn't stopped us from tolerating a persistently high rate of childhood poverty throughout the very same decades. In North Carolina, 24.3% of children are impoverished, which affects their brain development, their mental health, their exposure to toxins, and even their physical health into adulthood.
Income inequality also affects childhood development. A recent study in the journal Pediatrics shows that income inequality at the county level is associated with higher levels of mistreatment of children in the U.S. The findings contribute to the growing literature linking greater income inequality to a range of poor health and well-being outcomes in infants and children.
North Carolina has a huge interest in all children. Working to end childhood poverty, by strengthening our safety net, our schools, and our job market is the duty of everyone in the state. From citizens to elected officials, improving the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors should be a top priority.
Related to the issue of child poverty is the equally distressing issue of child "food insecurity." According to the North Carolina Association of Feeding America Food Banks, North Carolina has one of the highest rates of child food insecurity in the country. In fact, 1 in 4 children under 18 are food insecure on a regular basis.
Teresa Cook, one of our externs in the summer of 2012, brought us up to speed on the state of food banks across our state a memo to the Poverty Center.
Last summer, Xuan Li examined the issue of child food insecurity locally with the help of two fantastic local non-profits - PORCH and TABLE. To read more about child hunger in the Chapel Hill / Carrboro area, check out Xuan's research memo. Additionally, you can read about Xuan's experiences in her blog.