Have a Heart for Kids Day 2020

This is a kid's brain on poverty

siobhan 04/07/09

A new study of child poverty shows that the chronic stress of growing up poor hurts brain development.

The research offers insight into how poverty can limit the learning potential of children and may contribute to the achievement gap in school by impairing the brain's working memory. The working memory is the kind of memory that can hold a small amount of current information, like a list of numbers, to work with.

This study is particularly compelling in the current recession. Washington Kids Count recently put out a report that estimates nearly 40,000 more kids will drop into poverty over the next year, potentially dampening the learning ability of more children in our state. 

At the same time, the state's Early Childhood Education Assistance Program, the state's early learning program for low-income children, is facing potential state budget cuts even as the waiting lists are growing.

Gary Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University, led the research, which was published last week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Here's the story that ran in the Seattle Times and here's a link to the report in the PNAS journal.

- Ruth Schubert