Children struggle to cope in recession

The Modesto BeeMarch 16, 2009 

In one day, Salida Middle School Principal Shannon Kettering encountered three students having difficulty coping with their family's financial struggles.

One child's father joined the military after losing his job and is training in another state before he's deployed overseas.

Another student's family is being evicted from their home. The boy is on a heart monitor and Kettering is concerned about his health.

The third hasn't been eating lunch.

"His parents can't afford it. I told them to apply for free and reduced lunches, but they said they are too proud to do that," Kettering said. "I told them they can't be that proud right now."

The downward-spiraling economy is taking its toll on everyone. Schoolchildren are no exception. Many are too young to understand their parents' struggles, but they notice the tension.

From losing their homes to foreclosure to parents losing jobs, money is tight and the youngsters begin taking on some of the same stress adults grapple with.

Children also must deal with impediments to learning that come from moving too often. Students who move twice in a year are half as likely as others to read proficiently, according to a recent study by First Focus, a nonpartisan group in Washington.

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