The Challenge of Too Much Change

September 15, 2014

Young people are much more likely to thrive in stable, secure homes. Unfortunately a growing number of children deal with one or more kinds of instability. The Urban Institute’s recent review of the research outlines how different kinds of instability affect young people’s lives.

All children experience normal change in their routines, but when change is negative, frequent, or unexpected, children feel less secure and suffer a number of physical, psychological, and social consequences. Researchers have identified five common areas of instability that many children in at-risk communities experience:

  • Economic instability: when the family lacks sufficient income to meet basic needs
  • Employment instability: when a parent loses a job, is underemployed, or has a fluctuating work schedule
  • Family instability: when family interpersonal relationships change because of divorce or a similar relationship change
  • Residential instability: when the family must move frequently and/or suddenly
  • Out-of-home instability: when children must attend a different school or daycare situation

Kids who experience instability in one or more of these areas face consequences like material hardship, food insecurity, poor cognitive development, mental health problems, lower academic achievement, greater odds of dropping out of school, reduced social skills, and acting out through negative behaviors like bullying.

Adding to the devastation is the fact that one type of instability rarely occurs in isolation. For example, if a parent loses a job, it can lead to an unplanned change in housing, which can in turn lead to a change in schools, while the family also struggles with less money for food. This kind of chain reaction is especially common for low-income families like those served by tCI because they have fewer assets to fall back on when something destabilizing happens in their lives.

tCI programs give kids and families support during times of negative change while working to end the cycle of instability. Our youth programs provide additional stable relationships for kids, while our scholarship programs can help them stay in stable schools.  tCI’s parenting program helps parents cope with stress and learn how to better support their children, and our housing program helps families maintain a stable place to live.   

Find out more by checking out our list of programs, and lend your support to the program of your choice. Working together we can help give kids and families the support and tools they need to thrive, even during instability.

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