Hello! Welcome to this week’s edition of Brown Girl Green Money. We are a social network of women of color working to achieve financial freedom and inspire each other along the way. Thanks for joining us again this week.
A few months ago, I wrote about the importance of discovering your “why” when beginning your quest to achieve financial freedom. Basically, asking yourself what are your motivations and reasons behind having the desire to attain financial freedom and gain wealth. There are many reasons that motivate people to gain wealth and to be financially free including 1) ability to attain the “nicer” things in life 2) freedom to travel 3) freedom from debt/stress 4) ability to help others, etc. The list is endless. One issue that is near to my heart and is definitely one of my personal motivating factors in my quest toward achieving financial freedom and helping others do the same is the issue of childhood poverty.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, childhood poverty is a significant determinant of health. It affects not only physical and developmental health but educational achievement, emotional well being and health into adulthood. Poverty is defined as a family income of $24,000 or less per year for a family of four. Kids that live in poverty are at higher risks for teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, high school dropout, criminal behavior, and exposure to “toxic stress,” which can have lasting physiologic and emotional effects into adulthood.
According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 22% of all children in the U.S. are living in poverty. Most of these children have families who work, but due to low wages and unstable employment the families struggle to make ends meet. Research shows that families need on average twice the amount (46K) of the current federal poverty level ($24,000) to cover basic expenses. But unfortunately, there are many who do not.
Other pertinent facts related to this issue are below:
• The percentage of children living in low income families is on the rise.
• The percentage of children in low income families varies by race/ethnicity: 31% white children, 65% black children, 63% Hispanic children, 31% Asian children, 63% of American Indian Children
• Low levels of parental education are primary risk factors for being low income
• Single parent families are at greater risk of economic hardship than two parent families
• Poverty not only affects physical and emotional health of children, but it affects their ability to learn. Some studies have even suggested that kids who experience poverty at a young age can have alterations in their brain structure later in life!
Overall, this is a public health issue that cannot be ignored. As a pediatrician, this information is striking. There is no single prescription I can write that can solve this. There are so many social determinants of health that extend far beyond the clinic walls! That is why I am so passionate about bringing awareness to issues like this. We need to collectively come together as a community to advocate for policies and practices that will work to eliminate the toxic and lasting effects of childhood poverty. Seven focus areas that are crucial to addressing poverty and its lasting effects on children are: ensuring food security, increasing access to health care, building community, strengthening families, increasing access to higher education, strengthening early education, and building resilience. There is already a lot of amazing work going on in these areas, but we must continue to move forward. Our children are depending on us!
In closing, in your personal quest toward achieving financial freedom, remember that it is not only about you. By taking daily steps to break the chains of poverty in your own life, you are changing the lives of generations to come! How amazing! What daily steps are you taking to reach financial freedom? In what ways are you involved in fighting the war on childhood poverty? Share them with us at browngirlgreenmoney@gmail. com or www.facebook.com/browngirlgreenmoney. To learn more about the topic of childhood poverty and ways you can get involved visit: the National Center for Childhood Poverty at www.nccp.org , The Children’s Defense Fund at www.childrensdefense.org , or www.spotlightonpoverty.org .
Let’s come together and make a change! Have a blessed day!
Jasmine Zapata, MD is a pediatrician, motivational speaker, public/preventive health advocate, mentor, mother, wife, and entrepreneur from the Madison area, whose mission is to heal, uplift, empower and inspire. She’d love to keep the conversation going and can be reached at www.facebook.com/browngirlgreenmoney, www.facebook.com/drjasminezapata , firstname.lastname@example.org, or at email@example.com.