Halton residents are often surprised to learn that there are so many children in our community who live in poverty, even right in our own neighbourhoods. Here are some myths and facts about kids and poverty in our community.
Myth: There are no children in need in my neighbourhood/my child’s school.
Fact: 10 per cent of school-aged children in Halton live at or below the poverty line. The Halton Learning Foundation (HLF) provides assistance for basic essentials such as food and clothing for more than 1,100 of these kids who attend schools in the Halton District School Board. Virtually every school and community across Halton has students in need, even if they’re not visibly poor.
Myth: People who can’t afford basics for their kids just need to get a job, or two.
Fact: In 2018, 12,490 Halton residents were considered “working poor.” The majority of students assisted by HLF come from families where at least one parent is working one or more jobs.
Myth: Low income parents are not good parents.
Income is not a predictor of parenting, and bad things can happen to any parent. Life events such as illness, accidents or a child or parent’s mental health issues can take a severe toll on any family’s finances — particularly when there are no workplace benefits. Some students HLF has helped come from families that spend most of their income on medication or special supports for their child.
Myth: Teenagers should work to help pay their own expenses.
Fact: Many Halton students work out of necessity. The 15-year-old serving your coffee or ringing up your groceries may be a full-time student who is working to help pay the family’s rent or struggling to live on their own, because their parental home is unsafe. One teenager who HLF supported last year was attending school and working while raising a younger sibling after both parents died of cancer.
Myth: Poverty is too big an issue to make a difference.
Fact: The smallest gift or gesture can have a lasting impact on a child. Example: one in 10 students come to school hungry. Support for snacks or healthy lunches can significantly improve a student’s concentration, academic performance and self-confidence — critical things that can help kids become successful in school and in life.