Formal and informal services and supports help families promote their children’s good health, on-track development and school success.

Formal Supports are services that help families obtain necessities, such as:

  • Food
  • Housing
  • Income
  • Child care

Formal supports increase families’ abilities to deal with adversity and instability and contribute to children’s overall well-being.1

Children living in families with incomes below the poverty line face many obstacles to school success and early literacy, including:

  • Parental unemployment2
  • Housing instability or insufficiency3
  • Hunger or inadequate nutrition4
  • Toxic stress5

Family income is nearly as strong a predictor of children’s achievement as is parents’ education.6

Informal Supports are responsive and supportive social networks, services and institutions, such as:

  • Extended family
  • Friends
  • Neighbors
  • Peer support or mentorship groups
  • Faith-based groups

Families connected to supportive informal networks and services are:

  • Strengthened in their parenting
  • Likely to have better health, well-being and resilience
  • Better able to expose their children to activities and educational opportunities that will help them succeed7

Show 7 footnotes

  1.  Alliance for Early Success. (n.d.). Bridging State Policies for Children and Families. Retrieved February 27, 2017 from http://earlysuccess.org/sites/default/files/AESBridgingPaper6.pdf
  2.  Georgia Family Connection Partnership. (2015). Building a Path to Reading Proficiency. Retrieved from https://www.greatstartgeorgia.org/sites/default/files/readingproficiency.pdf
  3.  Schorr, L. and Marchand, V. (2007). Pathway to Children Ready for School and Succeeding at Third Grade. Retrieved from http://first5shasta.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/PathwayFramework9-07.pdf
  4.  Georgia Family Connection Partnership: Building a Path to Reading Proficiency, op cit.
  5.  Center on the Developing Child. (n.d.). Toxic Stress Derails Healthy Development. Retrieved from http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/toxic-stress-derails-healthy-development/
  6.  Annie E Casey Foundation (2013). Early Warning Confirmed: A Research Update on Third-Grade Reading. Retrieved from http://www.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/AECF-EarlyWarningConfirmed-2013.pdf
  7.  Center for the Study of Social Policy. (2013). Social Connections: Protective and Promotive Factors. Retrieved from http://www.cssp.org/reform/strengthening-families/2013/SF_Social-Connections.pdf

Read More About This Issue

28%
of children live in households spending more than 30% of income on housing costs in 2016
(Source:

NC Child Health Report Card 2018

)
2%
of NC kindergartners are homeless (2013-14)
(Source:

DPI Statistical Profile (2013-14)

)
14%
of NC children under five benefit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

What Can We Do About It?

What supports families?

  • Increasing family income, particularly for very low-income families with young children
  • Improving work supports, such as family and medical leave, health insurance and child care subsidies (see Family Forward NC)
  • Making it easier to access public benefits to support basic needs
  • Expanding trauma-informed policy and practice

Research-based based policies, practices and programs that providers, communities and North Carolina can take to ensure families are supported.

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