Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MA in Child Development


Child Development Graduate Program


Poverty has long been understood to be detrimental to developing children. While is it commonly viewed solely as a risk factor for experiencing other traumas, I argue here that poverty should be seen as a traumatic factor in and of itself. To support this claim, I explore several systemic and individual aspects of living in poverty which can cause significant harm to children and adolescents. Topics addressed include housing, foster care, stress as a mediator of parenting, and chronic and toxic stress in children. I also address the effects of poverty on social workers and the practical implications of viewing poverty as a source of trauma for mental health clinicians. In addition to supporting literature I have included anecdotal evidence from my two years of social work internships in New York city within a low-income high school and a foster care agency.