The health of a child influences how well they do in school, how their lives turn out, and their ability to support themselves as adults.
And what influences childhood health – physical and mental? Being poor, being hungry, lack of access to a doctor’s care, living in poor or dangerous conditions, experiencing domestic and other violence … and obesity, the result of eating cheap food packed with empty calories just to keep the stomach from being hungry.
So many things affect childhood health. …This is a big area to get your head around! Promise the Children is speaking up about all those issues.
One in four children don’t know where their next meal is coming from. The Atlanta Community Food Bank distributed twice as much food in 2012 than it did in 2008.
“When I stop to think about the thousands of people in the Atlanta Food Bank network who work hard to make things better for their neighbors in need, I’m struck by the community of caring that has been created over the past 34 years,” says Bill Bolling, still executive director of the food bank he started 34 years ago.
“But we have not yet found our voice to better address the systemic issues that allow poverty to continue in the context of such great wealth. We have not spoken in one clear voice about how to address the deeper challenges.
Finding our voice is often harder than operating food banks and pantries. It requires that we educate ourselves beyond the usual lose/lose framework that the media and political parties continually offer us. It insists that in the busyness of life we cannot be neutral about hungry children or elders in need.”
LACK OF HEALTH CARE FOR CHILDREN
There are almost 300,000 Georgia children. (11%) who do not have health insurance. A surprising 25% of all Latino children have no insurance. For white children and black children the number of uninsured children is about the same as Latino, but the percentage of uninsured Latino children almost 3 times higher.
Extremely poor children can get healthcare through Medicaid, though many factors often prevent it. Since 1999, Georgia has offered Peachcare for Kids, with reduced fees for less poor children. In October “Obamacare” enrollment begins. It will give more children access to doctors, though Gov. Deal vetoed the expansion of Medicaid , which will ensure that many of those 300,000 uninsured children will still remain uninsured.
MENTAL HEALTH CARE
Mental health care is woefully missing from free/ low cost health plans for children. Mental health needs are very great among the poor. Much, much remains to be done in this area. Much of it is political and will involve a big legislative agenda!