Children living in families in which neither parent has secure employment will rise to about 20 million this year, up 4 percent from 2006.I'm not sure that children's lives will, in fact, decline. Cutbacks in school budgets may simply serve to reverse or deter the damage education politics are playing on educational policy. Libraries may become more frequented. Children may actually have less disposable income to pour into vapid designer clothes and unhealthy fast food.
Also, many children live in households where all members do not have access to enough safe and nutritious foods. From 2007 to 2010, an additional 750,000 children are estimated to live in food-insecure households, the report said.
There is also potential for an uptick in obesity as families with tight budgets move toward lower quality food because of the recession, Land said. Healthy foods tend to be expensive, while processed and fast foods are cheaper and more readily available to some families.
Community engagement will go down as school districts reduce the employment of teachers and cut back programs. The amount of time spent in school may even go down; in 2009, Hawaii became the first state to move to four-day school weeks to save money in the recession.
One piece of good news is that health insurance coverage for children will not significantly fall, the report said, thanks to publicly financed health care programs. About 90 percent of children will be in families with some form of health insurance, the report said.
Chaotic childhoods have enormous implications for physical health, said Dr. Alan Kazdin, professor of psychology at Yale University and researcher at the Yale Child Conduct Clinic. Higher rates of cancer, liver disease, respiratory disease and other conditions have been found in people who grew up under stressful conditions, said Kazdin, who was not involved in the study.
Which is not to say the recession is a good thing.