August 31, 2013: Two articles this morning, the first in the L.A. Times and the second in the N.Y. Times, lend credibility to two of the key initiatives promoted by Partnering for Change. Links to each article are posted below:
Poverty can lower IQ (L.A. Times, August 31, 2013) New research lends support to the idea that many behaviors linked to being poor — using less preventive healthcare, having higher obesity rates, being less attentive parents and making poor financial decisions — may be caused by poverty rather than the other way around. The findings, published in Friday’s edition of the journal Science, indicate that an urgent need — making rent, getting money for food — tugs at the attention so much that it can reduce the brainpower of anyone who experiences it, regardless of innate intelligence or personality. As a result, many social welfare programs set up to help the poor could backfire by adding more complexity to their lives….”I think it’s a game changer,” said Kathleen Vohs, a behavioral scientist at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, who wasn’t involved with the study….There’s a widespread tendency to assume that poor people don’t have money because they are lazy, unmotivated or just not that sharp, said study coauthor Sendhil Mullainathan, a behavioral economist at Harvard University….. Last year, he and his colleagues published work in Science showing that when people are forced to focus on a pressing financial problem like a looming utility bill, they develop tunnel vision and ignore their long-term goals.
Partnering for Change: These findings mirror what practitioners of “housing first” for families have experienced for years: Housing first motivates and engages previously immobilized and depressed parents – providing the first rungs on a ladder that can help families climb out of poverty. Please see PFC’s initiative: Housing First for Families
Making the Safety Net More Visible (N.Y. Times, August 31, 2013) is subtitled: Philadelphia Tries to Put Services Within Reach of Those in Need. This article describes how in North Philadelphia, one of the poorest sections of the city, as many as 65 percent of individuals in some neighborhoods meet the guidelines for the Community Services Block Grant, a federal program that funds local agencies providing services to low-income communities, according to 2010 census data. But with an array of public and private agencies providing different services in different locations, many poor people here are not getting the assistance available to them that could help them find work or qualify for benefits. In response, Philadelphia initiated an effort this summer that offers “one-stop shopping” in local outreach centers to help people get all the assistance they need — with food, housing, job training, financial counseling, child care and other services — in one place.
Partnering for Change: Please see PFC’s initiative: Neighborhood-based Services Coordination.
For maximum social impact, rather than trying to re-invent the wheel each time, perhaps translating the key components of people-centered practices into a common language can help localities to adapt their current systems to those that have been proven to work. After all, it’s not rocket science.
Tanya Tull, ScD – Partnering for Change