This week marks 50 years since Lyndon Johnson declared War on Poverty. Your work is the secret weapon in winning this war.
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KIPS TIPS January 2014

 Hi ,  

Fifty years ago this week in his State of the Union address, the New President, Lyndon Johnson declared War on Poverty.  Today politicians are abuzz debating “America’s Longest War.”  We can all agree that this long war has not been won.  

Your work is the secret weapon in winning this war.  See more below.


We can all agree that this long war has not been won.  For a timeline showing the many battles and skirmishes from 1960 to 2013, follow this link to In the Trenches of the War on Poverty.

We Are Not Winning.  Surrender or Fight On? 

According to the National Poverty Center, in the late 1950s about 22.5% of the US population was living in poverty.  This rate fell throughout the 1960s to a low of 11.1 per cent in 1973.  Since that time the poverty rate has drifted between 11% and 15%.   Using data from the U.S. Census, I’ve plotted the results from 1999 to 2011 in the graph below.


One can see the impact of the two recessions starting in 2001 with the technology bubble bursting.  Then before we fully recovered, another rise in poverty started in 2007, reflecting the worst recession we have had since the great depression of the 1930’s.  If this is a war, we clearly aren’t winning.  Even worse than the numbers shown above, one of the most substantive changes has been who is poor.  Prior to the war on poverty, the elderly comprised the largest portion of the poor.  Now it is unmarried women and their children.  According to the National Center for Children in Poverty,

"More than 16 million children in the United States – 22% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level – $23,550 a year for a family of four. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses. Using this standard, 45% of children live in low-income families."  

If the goal is to reduce poverty, these numbers are very troubling. The children of the poor are more likely to become poor adults.  

Parenting is Our Secret Weapon

The War on Poverty included nutrition programs and educational interventions aimed at providing children of the poor a chance to rise out of poverty.  The effort correctly recognized the need to start early and give children from low-income families a chance to get ready for school. Because once a child falls behind, catching up is difficult.  The most notable education programs were Head Start for children 3 to 5 years, and the later developed Early Head Start for pregnant women and children birth to 3 years.  Head Start was modeled after well-researched experimental programs, particularly the Perry Preschool and the Abecedarian Project.  Head Start and Early Head Start aim to provide comprehensive services in supporting families in preparing their children for success in school.  As we have discussed in our blogs, the results of the Head Start Program have not fully met expectations.  In my and many others’ opinion, one factor that didn’t fully get translated from the Perry Preschool and Abecedarian Project were the robust services aimed at parenting quality improvement.  

As we frequently discuss in our KIPS parenting blog, the research grows ever stronger that parenting makes a difference in closing the achievement gap for poor children.  For example, one surprising longitudinal study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Early Child Care Research Network, designed to investigate the impact of different types of early childcare on children’s learning over time, found that early parenting quality was the predominant factor in children’s 5th and 6th grade school achievement. 


This long-term study of over 1000 children included a range of childcare, from parental caregiving to center-based settings like Head Start.  This chart shows the large magnitude of this impact.  The study concluded that:

"Parenting was a stronger and more consistent predictor of children’s development than early child care experience." - Belsky, et. al. (2007) Are There Long Term Effects from Early Child Care? Child Development 78:681-701.

Also, another very recent particularly powerful study reported by Helen Neville and colleagues showed that enhancing Head Start with a mere 8 weeks of focused parent intervention resulted in significant impacts on children’s event-related brain potential, as well as a wide range of measurable cognitive, language and behavioral changes.  Working weekly with parents resulted in striking gains with effect sizes rarely seen in interventions focused directly on children.  Rather than summarizing more of this literature, let me point you to two recent brief reviews aimed at general audiences cited in our blogs:

Brookings: A Parenting Gap Causes the Achievement Gap!

Nobel Prize Winner Calls for Assessing Parenting Quality

The Research is Overwhelming:

1) The stresses and trauma of poverty interfere with the ability of parents to nurture their children.

2)  Reduced quality of parenting dramatically and negatively impacts children’s development and learning.  

3) There are many proven program models that help low-income parents better nurture their children.

You Hold the Secret Weapon!

Since you are a KIPS user, you already know the importance of parenting. Your work to promote more nurturing parenting is now recognized as the front line on the War on Poverty.  Thanks to your important efforts, coupled with the use of the correct tools like KIPS, we can gain ground in this, America's Longest War.

Wondering What Else KIPS Can Do For You?

Read Success Stories written by your sister KIPSters to discover what they are learning with KIPS.

Read Success Stories





Welcome New KIPSters!

Bilingual Assessment Treatment & Counseling, Providence, RI
Children's Institute, Inc., Los Angeles, CA
Evelyn Wotherspoon and Associates, Calgary, Alberta
Family Resource Center, Pittsburg, KS
Luton Borough Council, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom
Russell Child Development Center, Garden City, KS


Where Can I Find KIPS Online Training and Supports?

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Here are the links:

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Forgot your password? On each login page click on HELP! I forgot my password. Type in your username (usually your email address), and the program automatically sends you an email with your username and password.

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