Child poverty in Santa Barbara County
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One-fourth of the Santa Barbara population lives below the poverty threshold, and the city now has the third highest poverty rate out of California’s fifty eight counties, according to The Independent. The percentage of children below the poverty line is up to 26.3 percent. Much of this poverty is due to the way that wages for full-time jobs have changed since 2000. While areas that were more well-off have only suffered a yearly loss of around $21, areas with higher poverty have lost $2000 or more per year.
PPIC research Sarah Bohn said, “The picture of poverty is quite different than what you might expect...it tends to be higher on the coast, and some of that’s driven by the high cost of living, but also by the fact that in some of those places families are working and less eligible for social safety net programs that boot their income.” By Bohn’s analysis, it is no surprise that Santa Barbara is struggling with poverty rates.
According to the American Psychological Association, childhood poverty is linked to a lack of healthcare, unsafe living conditions, school dropout, abuse and neglect, behavioral problems, and more. Studies have also shown that chronic stress caused by living in poverty can affect a child’s memory and concentration capabilities.
Physical health is one of the major concerns for children who are born into poverty. It is not uncommon for children to have a birth weight that is below average. Nutritional difficulties can also manifest throughout childhood in several different ways, such as food insecurity and obesity. They can also develop chronic conditions like asthma, anemia, and pneumonia. Children can also be exposed to dangerous environments that lead to injury, trauma, or infection.
In Santa Barbara, there are many organizations who exist to assist the people struggling to get by. One such organization is the Santa Barbara Foundation, which has donated money to grant programs that in turn help the needs of Santa Barbara’s people. However, only a small amount of those dollars have gone towards early care and education. This area receives the least money from the foundation, which may explain in part why the poverty among Santa Barbara’s children is so incredibly high. Another organization that is working to protect children from the harmful consequences of poverty is the Santa Barbara Transition House, which provides a temporary, safe place to live, tools to help the families become self-sufficient, and education programs for the kids. One creative charity, Showers of Blessing, provides a portable shower trailer to promote health and wellness for house-less people. Simple: being able to take a shower can restore dignity to people and give them a jumping off point to finding employment.