At Moorelands Kids, we empower Toronto kids facing financial challenges.
Children and youth living in lower-income neighbourhoods face barriers that other kids don’t. One in four kids in Toronto is living in poverty. That’s 133,000 children and youth. Our out-of-school programs following a positive youth development framework, empower kids to overcome the intersecting challenges they face.
- One in four children live in poverty in Toronto. 
- In 2019, 18.6% of children under the age of 18 experienced the effects of poverty. 
- Thirteen city wards in Toronto have areas with child poverty rates over 50%. 
- Torontonians have the lowest levels of access to Employment Insurance in Canada. 
- Children in racialized families are more than twice as likely to live in poverty than children in non-racialized families. 
- The racial pay gap in Canada is large, with racialized Canadians earning between 71-79 cents for every dollar paid to non-racialized Canadians in 2019. 
HOW POVERTY AFFECTS CHILDREN AND YOUTH
- Toronto’s middle class is shrinking. According to research from 2010 by the University of Toronto’s Cities Centre, the proportion of middle-income neighbourhoods in Toronto decreased from 66% in 1970 to 29% in 2005 while the proportion of low-income neighbourhoods grew from 19% in 1970 to 53% in 2005. If these trends continue, there will be a stark divide between high-income neighbourhoods and low-income neighbourhoods, with few in between.
- Numerous studies have documented the increasing racialization of poverty and a wide racial pay gap. Immigrants, refugees and members of racialized communities face multiple systemic barriers to economic participation. In 2019, racialized Canadians earned between 71-79 cents for every dollar paid to non-racialized Canadians. 
- Research shows a significant link between income and academic skills and behaviour. On average, children living in poverty have significantly poorer academic performance than their middle-class peers. The likelihood that a child will be held back in school or placed in a special education class increases by 2 to 3% for every year the child lives in poverty.
- Low-income children are at a greater risk of dropping out of high school, which is a major risk factor for poverty. 
- Living in an economically disadvantaged neighbourhood, low socioeconomic status (SES) and coming from a family that has experienced long-term poverty each predict lower levels of school achievement, increased socio-emotional problems and lower test scores. 
- Research indicates that the risks for poor child development outcomes are cumulative — The more risks children experience (like unsafe neighbourhoods, poverty, or low maternal education) the worse their socioeconomic and cognitive development outcomes. 
FACTS ABOUT THE POSITIVE IMPACT OF OUT-OF-SCHOOL PROGRAMS
- A growing body of evidence shows that structured out-of-school programs, like those offered at Moorelands Kids, improve academic achievement and school engagement; increase self-esteem and lower rates of depression; better peer relations; reduce problem behaviours like delinquency and substance abuse; improve leadership; and increase civic engagement.   
- Out-of-school programs help children develop social and practical skills, build positive relationships with peers and adults in a safe environment, and build competence. 
- Unsupervised children are more likely to engage in delinquent behaviours or become victims of crime. During the school year, children ages 6 to 13 are at the greatest risk of physical assault between 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Out-of-school programs reduce the amount of unsupervised time and provide safe, caring and constructive environments that protect children during times when youth crime is at its peak.   
- Programs that teach children social and emotional skills have positive effects on grades, school attendance, test scores and social behaviour. 
- Community programs provide an opportunity for children to build positive relationships with adults as role models and mentors. Having at least one supportive, nurturing and attentive relationship in a young person’s life can significantly reduce their likelihood of engaging in high-risk behaviours, increase their likelihood of success in education and promote their health and wellbeing. 
- Toronto Foundation (2020). Toronto’s Vital Signs 2019/20.
- Campaign 2000 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada (2019). 2020: Setting the Stage for a Poverty Free Canada.
- 2017 Toronto Child and Family Poverty Report Card (2017). Unequal City: The Hidden Divide Among Toronto’s Children and Youth.
- United Way of Greater Toronto (2007). Losing Ground: The Persistent Growth of Family Poverty in Canada’s Largest City.
- Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (2019). Canada’s Colour Coded Labour Market, December 2019.
- Hulchanski, David. The University of Toronto (2010). The Three Cities Within Toronto: Income Polarization Among Toronto’s Neighbourhoods, 1970-2005.
- Votruba-Drzal, E. (2006). Economic disparities in middle childhood development: Does income matter? Developmental Psychology, 42, 6, 1154-1167.
- McLoyd, V. (1998). Socioeconomic disadvantage and child development. American Psychologist, 53, 2, 185-204.
- Sandstorm, Heather. Urban Institute (2013). The Negative Effects of Instability on Child Development.
- Gassman-Pines, A. & Yoshikawa, H. (2006). The effects of anti-poverty programs on children’s cumulative level of poverty-related risk. Developmental Psychology, 42, 6, 981-999.
- Fredricks, J. & Eccles, J. (2006). Is extracurricular participation associated with beneficial outcomes? Concurrent and longitudinal relations. Developmental Psychology, 42, 4, 698-713.
- Woodland, M. (2008). Whatcha doin’ after school?: A review of the literature on the influence of after-school programs on young black males. Urban Education, 43, 5, 537-560.
- Wright, R., John, L., Alaggia, R. & Sheel, J. (2006). Community-based arts program for youth in low-income communities: A multi-method evaluation. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, 23, 5-6, 635-652.
- Shernoff, D. & Lowe Vandell, D. (2008). Youth engagement and quality of experience in afterschool programs. Afterschool Matters Occasional Paper Series, 9, Fall (NOIST).
- Community Social Planning Council of Toronto (CSPC-T) In Partnership with Middle Childhood Matters Coalition Toronto (MCMC) (2009). Middle childhood matters: An inventory of full-week after-school programs for children 6-12 years in Toronto.
- National Institute on Out-of-School Time [NIOST] (2004). Making the case: A fact sheet on children and youth in out-of-school time.
- Statistics Canada (2005). Children and youth as victims of violent crime.
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (2017) Increasing Resilience in Children Ages 0-12 Years.
- Search Institute (2017) Relationships First: Creating Connections that Help Young People Thrive.