Helping Children to Thrive During Difficult Economic Times

Helping young children build strong foundations to grow upon is one of the main goals at Southwest Human Development. Unfortunately though, each day we are seeing more children that are feeling the mental, physical, and emotional eects of the down-trodden economy in ways that are compromising their early childhood development.  We see families without a safety net worry about job security, housing, and health care.

Parents that are preoccupied with meeting their children's basic needs, have an extraordinarily difficult attending to other aspects of their healthy development. Yet we know that a child's social, emotional and cognitive development are just as important as physical development in building the strong foundation needed for success in school and in life.

Here’s one case study demonstrating how just a little help can make a big dierence.  “Carl” and “Marie” are participants in our Healthy Families child development and abuse-prevention program. The couple has three young children and in the last year they found their ability to take care of their children severely challenged.

Carl is the sole bread-winner for this family of five; and because of the troubled economy, his employer has drastically reduced his work hours.  Carl and Marie are now having difficulty paying their monthly expenses. The family has made adjustments and sacrifices to ease this situation. They have done everything they can to creatively stretch the few dollars they have; but with Carl on call and only working a few days a week, the couple doesn’t know from one day to the next if, when, or where he’ll be working.

During the hardest times, the enormous stress overshadowing the household could be seen in Marie’s eyes as she imagined losing everything and becoming homeless. Relationships were strained as Carl tried to find additional work that just didn’t (and still does not) exist and Marie tried to put on a brave front for the children. But we know from research and practical experience that children are impacted by their parents' stress, despite best eorts to protect them.

Southwest Human Development's family assistance fund provided a one-time cash contribution to pay for a security deposit to help Carl and Marie move into a smaller, less expensive apartment.  This assistance helped the couple remain financially afloat. The family is still struggling, but their stress level has greatly decreased, allowing them to again focus on the healthy development and well-being of their children.

In this economic climate, SWHD is called upon more and more frequently for this kind of assistance. At the same time, the state government is cutting funding, leaving children even more vulnerable. To cite merely one example, studies have shown that incidences of abuse increase during economic downturns; yet funding for child-abuse prevention programs like Healthy Families is being slashed. And poverty, we know, is the number-one predictor of poor outcomes for children.

Despite these challenges Southwest Human Development is continuing to make a dierence in the lives of the children we serve, including Carl and Marie's. Often just a little financial assistance, combined with advice, education and support from our child development experts, allows us to lessen the stress of these families and enable them to focus on their young children’s healthy development—social, emotional, cognitive and physical. We would like to thank all of our donors for helping to make this possible, and helping to create a positive future for children during these troubling times.

Article Source: SWHD

Posted in Relationships