Behind from the Start examines the link between America's shaming, blaming, and marginalizing of poor parents, and American policies that jeopardize the life chances of vulnerable young children, thereby maintaining the cycle of chronic poverty.
Lenette Azzi-Lessing reveals how negative public and political discourse regarding poor families impacts the very policies and programs intended to support them, which have in turn failed to meet their aims.
She considers the cultural and political forces that contribute to intergenerational poverty in the U.S., and the consequences for the millions of young children in families stuck at the bottom of our economy.
Close to six million children ages five and under live in poverty and that number continues to grow.
Research has shown that the experience of poverty in the first years of life is particularly harmful, blunting physical and brain development, increasing risk for chronic health issues and injury, and limiting lifelong capacity for learning and success. Behind from the Start reveals that what began as the War on Poverty has, over the course of the past five decades, been contorted into a War on the Poor in which the lives of America's poorest children remain heartbreakingly grim, as are their prospects for a healthy and successful future.
Drawing from fields as wide-ranging as media studies, psychology, social welfare, public policy, neuroscience, and education as well as her own considerable personal experience, Lessing makes a forceful case for action to break out of this self-fulfilling cycle.