Children born into disadvantage andpoverty are more likely to have health problems, develop behavioural issues,experience housing and food insecurity, achieve lower levels of educational attainment, and experience less supportive parental relationships.
The Salvation Army maintains thateach child should have the sameopportunities as their peers, and alack of resources should not further disadvantage children. Early childhood research highlights the formative years of a child’s life as critical to their learning and development, fundamentally shaping the adults that they will become. Gaps in skills and abilities between children fromsocioeconomically disadvantagedfamilies and more advantaged peers are apparent early in life. The Salvation Army advocates for children to have improved access to early years’ education programs, rather than perpetuating the cycle of disadvantage that sets a life trajectory of poorer social, educational, employment and financial outcomes in later years.
Education is fundamental to improving children and young people’s learning opportunities, social connections, and employment prospects. It is also a critical step in moving out of poverty and disadvantage. There is arelationship between education andbetter health, as well as raised civicand social engagement.
This year, our sample included atotal of 1,794 children across 744 households. Of these, nearly three out of five children experienced severe deprivations and went without five or more essential day-to-day items. The top 10 items that respondents could not afford for their children related to connectedness, education, and access to health services.
Feedback from respondents recorded a sense of guilt, sadness and distress that they could not provide basic items for their children. Our research identified that for households with children, many experienced exclusion and were deprived of learning opportunities through school, social and recreational activities. The Salvation Army is concerned that these children’s prospects are likelyto diminish and lead to increased poverty, through lack of opportunityand prolonged disadvantage.
ESIS found parents to be one of the most disadvantaged demographic groups from our sample. Children of respondents were subsequently disadvantaged due to their parents' lack of economic resources and life circumstances. This resulted in an increased risk of poverty and exclusion