without access to high-quality education, kids born into poverty are likely to remain in poverty for their whole lives.
Beyond childhood poverty.
breaking the cycle of poverty
If we want to reduce poverty, we need to focus our energies on changing the trajectory for young children so they don’t become trapped in poverty for life, and raise children in poverty. So what should we as a society do to bring about change?
A major way is through early childhood education. Studies have demonstrated that children from low-income families who attend full-time, high-quality educational programs from infancy through age 5, have higher cognitive test scores than their peers who don’t have access to that education, are more likely to graduate from high school and college, hold a job, have higher earnings, and stay away from crime. This is why the first five years are so important to breaking the cycle of poverty.
In addition to providing educational opportunities to these children at an early age, it is essential that we support parents in transforming their family situation. We must ensure that parents have the skills and resources to raise healthy, “prepared” children, and positively impact their family’s socio-economic status and overall stability. In what is called a “dual-generation” approach, high-quality early childhood education is combined with services to parents. Services are coordinated by case managers and include parenting training, financial literacy, employment services, debt management, and a number of other resources to help them get better jobs and build stronger families. The two-generation approach has been found to be one of the best ways to help families escape poverty.
For this reason, at St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore we employ a dual-generation approach in working with families. This is exemplified in our Head Start program, which combines early childhood education with services to the parents.
Our Head Start program serves 725 children with educational services that ensure their readiness for school. We also provide support services to strengthen their family including: case management, access to housing, employment and occupational skills training, and adult education classes including financial literacy, nutrition, and job readiness. Click here for the 2016-2017 enrollment information (English, Spanish).
Camp Discovery provides summer camp for enrolled Head Start students who need more educational services in order to prepare for kindergarten. 93% of our Head Start students achieved social-emotional milestones, 8 in 10 achieved math and science proficiency, 90% achieved language and literacy proficiency. Head Start is remarkably effective at changing the odds that children growing up in poverty will not be in poverty as adults.
At our Sarah’s Hope family shelters, the children we serve receive services to reduce the negative impact of homelessness. The children are quickly re-enrolled in school and provided support to stay in school. We also offer on-site health services, after-school tutoring and activities, weekend recreation, and other services to strengthen the children’s academic skills and their social and emotional health. At our Sarah’s Hope Mount Street location, we provide on-site therapeutic child care and early Head Start services through a partnership with PACT.
Our Camp St. Vincent program provides an 8-week summer camp for 250 homeless children that is specifically designed to reduce the impact of homelessness on their academic, social, and emotional development. The camp’s program is designed to lessen summer learning loss often experienced by children living in poverty. 96% of our campers maintained/increased reading skills, and 64% maintained/increased math skills.
Our programs alleviating childhood poverty include:
The children enrolled there are quickly re-enrolled in school and provided support to stay in school. We also offer on-site health services, after-school tutoring and activities, weekend recreation, and other services to strengthen the children’s academic skills and their social and emotional health.
An 8-week summer camp for homeless children to reduce the impact of homelessness and lessen summer learning loss.
Summer camp for enrolled Head Start students who need more educational services in order to prepare for kindergarten.
School became unbearable for Trejour. When the other children found out she lived in a shelter, she found it difficult to make friends. At Camp St. Vincent, she continued to learn and make friends who were going through a similar situation and could relate to her struggles.
“She was excited and happy to go! And it helped me focus because she was somewhere safe and I didn’t have to worry about her.” - Tammy