Economic hardship hurts Arkansas kids

Economic hardship during childhood is the leading Adverse Childhood Event (ACE) in Arkansas. It is associated with learning and behavioral problems for students early on and can lead to health problems later in life, according to a new report by Child Trends, a nonprofit research center that provides information on the well-being of children. ACE’s are experiences like the death of a parent, having a parent or guardian in jail, or being the victim of violence. Economic hardship, however, remains the most common ACE in Arkansas as well as the U.S.

One in three Arkansas children (ages 0-17) has been impacted by economic hardship, followed by parental divorce, and living with someone with an alcohol problem or mental illness. The rate of child poverty for children under 18 increased from 25 percent in 1990, to 28 percent in 2012. You can learn about Arkansas child poverty rankings here.

Health problems like obesity, depression, and alcoholism are more common for adults who have experienced a high number of ACE’s during their childhood. Children with more ACEs also are more likely to struggle in school, showing low engagement, grade repetition, and inability to finish tasks. You can read more about ACEs and their effects on Arkansas children here. Increasing the availability of proven poverty fighting programs like the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit is a straightforward way to reduce childhood poverty and improve the well-being of children in Arkansas.