Poverty: An Intergenerational Problem

Jun 6, 2018 | by Mary Zaleski

Imagine having to decide whether to feed your family or pay bills. Now imagine that this scenario is all you have ever known since childhood.

The harsh reality is that most people who grow up in poverty remain in poverty without some positive outside influence or assistance. Children raised in impoverished households are 32 times as likely to continue in poverty as adults and thereby perpetuate intergenerational poverty. At the Salvation Army, we know that a lack of hope is one of the primary obstacles to breaking the vicious cycle of poverty. Therefore, we developed a new method called Pathway of Hope that uses a holistic approach to providing targeted services to families. With our help, families are able to emerge from crisis and vulnerability and begin to develop stability and independence. Moreover, they do it themselves by taking control of their situation.

When we use the word Hope, we really mean it. In fact, we actually measure the level of hope that families are feeling at the beginning and the end of the Pathway of Hope process. The program is not easy. Working with a trained Salvation Army caseworker, the family members establish a plan for themselves and work hard to reach targeted goals at various points in the program. Goals are established based on their individual family needs and then a plan is tailored to help them be successful. And every small success is celebrated along the way. Despite an improving economy, statistics show that nearly 43 million people in this country are living below the poverty level and sadly, more than a third of them are children. Closer to home in Michigan, the poverty rate in Flint and Detroit is three times that of the U.S. and nearly 66 percent are children. This unique approach is in line with government and foundation funding priorities on programs that address deeper systemic challenges, such as poverty, with novel approaches and empirically valid outcomes.

Here are the program's eligibility requirements:

  • Designed for families with at least one child under age 18
  • Enrollees must have a desire to take action to address barriers

Here are the overarching goals:

  • Raise hope
  • Increase sufficiency
  • Break the cycle of intergenerational poverty

For more information, click here to visit the Pathway of Hope website.

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