There are 22,693 children under the age of 5 living in Durham. Of those children, nearly 30% live in poverty, and half live in low-income households. We know that the effects of poverty are most destructive in a child’s early years. Poverty has far-reaching consequences for young children, negatively impacting brain development, physical and emotional health, and educational achievement. These are key building blocks for productive adult lives, and that foundation begins with a child’s earliest experiences.
When children are exposed to strong, frequent, or prolonged adverse experiences, it is known as toxic stress. Toxic stress and its common causes – such as poverty, abuse or neglect, parental substance abuse or mental illness, and exposure to violence—can have a cumulative toll on a person’s physical and mental health.
However, research shows that responsive relationships with caring, consistent, loving adults can prevent – or reverse – the damaging effects of poverty, community violence, or family instability. For many children, these relationships are found in their home visitors, teachers, community members, and other caregivers. High-quality early childhood care offers an unparalleled opportunity to alleviate the effects of toxic stress and break the cycle of poverty.
Knowing this, the Partnership leads initiatives that address the multi-faceted effects of poverty. Early intervention and two-generation strategies that serve both parent and child create better futures for everyone. By increasing access to high quality care for low-income children, we buffer toxic stress and promote healthy development; parents, in turn, can work or go to school. We fund evidence-based programs that address mental health and behavioral issues, help prevent child abuse and neglect, empower parents through education and support, and encourage healthy physical habits. We know these strategies work, and we also know that there are many more children in our community who need these services.
There are 22,693 children under the age of 5, and many of them need your help today. Please make a gift to the Partnership to make a lifelong difference for Durham’s children!