November 17, 2014
Reflective Paper Everyone seeking services has a story, a reason they are looking for help. Each story is unique to the person, and the care they receive should be the same. There are complex factors involved in overcoming many of the challenges that potential clients might face. In order to be an effective helper, the human services worker must understand the depth of these challenges. If a client comes from a background of generational poverty, it is important that the counselor working with them grasps how different their life has been, and how much work it has taken to get them to where they are now. A female client might face some of the same challenges as one from poverty, or the challenges may be completely different. A woman seeking assistance has her own background, and that needs to be respected. An older client may need help with Medicare or other federal assistance program, or they might be seeking employment and need job training. A competent human services worker will recognize the shared and unique challenges each client presents with. They will be able to provide the necessary supports without judgment.
Generational poverty is a growing problem in the United States. Defined as a population that has lived in poverty for more than two generations, it transcends race and geography (University of Phoenix, 2014). When a person has lived in poverty all their life, and seen their parents and grandparents live in poverty, it becomes all they know, their culture. Breaking the cycle and getting out of poverty is much more difficult than simply “getting a job”. Many people believe that in order to escape poverty one simply has to work, that those who live in poverty are lazy. This is not the case for the majority of those living in the cycle of generational poverty. There are many factors that contribute to a family living in poverty. When a person grows up in poverty as a child, that adult is more likely to live in poverty. The highest education level of the head of the family also plays a part. Family size is important, the more children a family has the more expensive it becomes to care for all of them. Statistically children growing up in poverty are more likely to become teen parents, unable to financially provide for their children, thus perpetuating the cycle. Lack of affordable health care and child care, inflexible work schedules all play a role in generational poverty, and must be overcome in order to escape (University of Phoenix, 2014).
There are three main factors that impact the effectiveness of a person’s attempt to break the cycle, social supports, personal barriers, and system barriers. The supports a person has when trying to bring themselves out of poverty are critical. They need someone to encourage and motivate them, and help them to succeed, in school and in life. It is not uncommon for those living in poverty to exhibit self-defeating behaviors. These personal barriers can prohibit an individual’s escape from poverty. The health of parents, any children, and sense of obligation all act as personal barriers. The system provides its own barriers to breaking the cycle of poverty. Single mothers are often trapped in minimum wage jobs with a lack of flexibility leaving them unable to afford child care and other employment necessities. They then turn to welfare and other assistance programs, but there is a large gap in the living wage and the income limits for these systems (University of Phoenix, 2014).
In order to break the cycle and escape generational poverty all of these challenges must be overcome. The helper working with this individual or family needs to acknowledge and accept these facts in order to be effective. It is hard work to get out this cycle, and harder still for people from this background to ask for help. If the service worker does not recognize the effort put in, then the chances of success become