New research indicates that the stresses of poverty can have long-term negative impacts on children. Several years of studies funded by the National Institutes of Health found that high levels of stress hormones can inhibit the proper development of children’s higher cognitive functioning, such as planning, impulse, and emotional control. And children living in poverty routinely experience such high levels of stress.
Parental worries, crowded or unstable living conditions, and inadequate childcare are just some of the triggers of high stress for children living in poverty. Additionally, previous research suggests homeless children fare worse than their housed peers when it comes to stress, coping, and behavior.
As we approach a record 19,000 homeless kids in NYC each night, it is critical that we remember the effects of the trauma of homelessness. While programs like Bound for Success and Camp Homeward Bound aim to help homeless kids cope, the best solution to this problem is to reduce the number of homeless kids. Once again, we urge the mayor to implement humane and sensible policies that provide affordable housing to homeless families. We owe it to New York City’s most vulnerable children.