09 April 2009

Laying the Groundwork for Our Youngest Citizens and Their Families

A primary step in constructing a sturdy building is laying a stable foundation. With our youngest citizens, constructing the formation of the mind operates in a similar way: the groundwork assembled in the earliest years must be firm in order for that child to flourish.

Infants and toddlers are disproportionately touched by the rising poverty in our community, and such financial distress can endanger their healthy cognitive, social and emotional development, as well as impede their ability to prosper in the classroom and in life.

Fast Facts:

- Compared to children of all ages, the proportion of young children living in poverty is increasing more quickly. From 2006 to 2007, the number of impoverished Memphis children of all ages increased by 13% while the number of impoverished children under age 5 increased by 32% (American Community Survey, 2006-2007).

- Child poverty is expected to reduce the GDP of the Memphis metro. area by about $230 million per year, primarily due to lost productivity in the labor force later in life (CUCP, 2009).

Policy Suggestions (Zero to Three, 2009):

- Increase investment in child nutrition programs that reduce food insecurity for young children.
- Provide adequate housing and energy assistance to low-income families.
- Eliminate administrative barriers to participation in benefit programs for low-income families.

For more information on the well-being of children in Memphis and Shelby County, visit The Urban Child Institute at http://www.theurbanchildinstitute.org; and The State of Children in Memphis and Shelby County, available at http://www.theurbanchildinstitute.org/DatabookProcessor.php.

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