Early Childhood Intervention: Module Two – Special Needs & Conditions

Category — 2.3. Children Living in Poverty

Children Living in Poverty


Statistics indicate that one in seven children in British Columbia is poor, making this province’s child poverty rate the highest in Canada. The difficulties faced by these children and their families include the following:

  • Limited access to adequate housing;
  • Frequent moving or, at times, not having a place to live, or homelessness; Limited access to healthy, nutritious meals with foods from all four food groups, and overall low-quality of life in terms of physical and mental health and well-being.

These children frequently witness their parent’s frustration at unemployment or underemployment. Parents may also deal with issues of anxiety and depression, among others.

Children living with environmental risk conditions may experience a wide range of cognitive and overall developmental delays because they do not get enough healthy food to grow and thrive (malnutrition), or because they live in conditions that are not safe or clean (non-hygienic) and that may bring illnesses or bug infestations.

People who live in poverty spend much of their income on basic living needs such as housing, food and clothing. For example, people generally spend about 34% of income on basic living needs, according to an index known as “LICO” or Low Income Cut Offs. However, a family living at or under the poverty line (see full Glossary) spends about 53%, or over half of their income on basic needs. This creates problems as it is difficult to get these needs met and there is little or no extra income for additional expenses for the child, including winter coats, new boots or recreational activities (see full Glossary).

What can be done and where one can go for help?

Unlike other “risk” conditions, poverty is related to complex social and economic factors. This is why children and families living in poverty require the help and support of provincial and federal government programs to assist them.  They have a right to adequate shelter and housing, food, clothing, and medical attention and education. These families are not alone.  Many individuals and also agencies that are non-profit continue to fight for, that is, to advocate, for the rights for children and families in Canada who are living in poverty. These agencies are known as “NGOs” or non-government organizations.

As a result of these efforts, a number of programs1 have developed to meet the needs of children living in poverty.

To learn about the impact of poverty in the middle childhood years, please visit the six to 12 part of this course.

1 CAPC, Healthiest Baby and others

February 17, 2011   No Comments