Pressures such as poverty, homelessness, separation and divorce, or other sudden losses or disruptions in their lives affect more than half of school-age children, and the impact of these situations on their success and well-being is profound. Although the circumstances cannot always be changed, by working together we can mitigate their impact and help children stay on track. Because these areas are viewed as private, it can be difficult to address these concerns with children. This chapter offers schools, parents and caregivers, and community partners practical approaches for responding to some of these issues.
A positive environment that encourages success is the most important thing schools can offer their students. The positive impact of school is strengthened when the caring support available through schools is emphasized—whether it is inclusion in hot lunch programs, recreation opportunities, the consistent attention of a member of the school staff, or the reassuring structure of school life. When students need a little more support because of external pressures, their load can be lightened by providing them with knowledge of and a gateway to resources that can help. When the school environment offers universal programs, everyone is helped or supported, including those students who need it the most.
One out of every five households renting in Ontario is paying more than 50% of its income on rent.
School-age children’s ability to learn, succeed in school, and make friends is also at risk when they are hungry.