Children growing up on welfare more at risk of developmental delays
Children who grow up in a family on welfare have less chance of good development in life than other children, according to Statistics Netherlands (CBS). They more often miss out on several “resources” their peers have access to.
The stats office looked at the first 1,000 days of children born in 2006, from conception to age two. Recourses within this research include their parents’ level of education, their parents’ wealth level, the stability of the family, and their parents’ mental health.
On average, children with highly educated parents, with a relatively good income, in a happy relationship, and without mental health problems make a good start in life. Conversely, children whose parents are poorly educated, with little income or wealth, who are divorced, or who have mental health problems are at risk of falling behind.
These factors can already play a role when the child is still in the mother’s womb, said CBS researcher Ruben van Gaalen. Stress can affect the child’s development in the womb. “And if there is little money, for example, there is often stress.” The problems can also increase if a child faces multiple risk factors.
Statistics Netherlands spoke of an accumulation of risk factors if two or more are present in the family. The study showed that 81 percent of children growing up in a family on social assistance had two or more of these risk factors in their lives. Among children who grow up in families with higher incomes, that was 11 percent. Nine percent of children in welfare families had four risk factors. Among other children, almost none had so many risk factors.
Of the children born in 2006, 6 percent lived in a family on welfare in the first thousand days. CBS looked at children who had lived in a family where at least one of the parents received social assistance or other welfare benefits for at least a year.
CBS is still examining the effects of a bad start on the rest of the child’s life. The statisticians are conducting follow-up research into the further life course of these kids born in 2006.
Reporting by ANP