Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion and Population Health
Population Health Research Brief Series
Children in Economically Disadvantaged Households Have Lower Early Literacy Skills than their Higher-Income Peers
Michah W. Rothbart, Colleen Heflin, and Gabriella Alphonso
Literacy is critical for numerous developmental outcomes and wellbeing among children. Low literacy skills in childhood can also negatively affect individuals in adulthood. Using data from nearly 300,000 kindergarten students in Virginia (2014-2017), this study finds that children in households that participate in more than one social assistance program (such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs, and Free or Reduced-Price Lunch) have lower literacy skills when they enter kindergarten than children whose households participate in fewer or no social programs.