2 min read

$428 per child: the cost of Back to School

According to a recent survey, the average cost to Canadians to send one child back to school after summer vacation is $428.  Alberta comes in at $431 per child, just above the national average.

The cost includes school supplies, clothing, technology and sports equipment.  It doesn’t include the deluge of field trip payments, lunch and bus money which goes hand in hand with the end of summer vacation.

It’s enough to have most parents up in arms but, for those families living below the poverty line, it’s a cost which might just cost them a whole lot more in the long run.

Jenna Miller, Managing Director, Family Counselling and Community Services at Carya, explains what poverty and the added financial dent from Back to School month, means to Calgary families.

“Poverty has a couple of major impacts on child development.  Firstly it can play key factor in toxic stress within the home and has been proven as a major contributing factor in cases of child maltreatment.  That’s not to say that poverty makes parents mistreat their children, but the stress of living with poverty can contribute to the stressors in a home and lead to family turmoil and even violence.

The second major impact is when children are robbed of quality time with their parents because their parents are trying desperately to make ends meet.  I’ve seen parents working three jobs to put food on the table and it’s really heartbreaking because they’re putting their children’s basic needs first, but it’s at the expense of their developmental needs. 

When children don’t get the interaction and attachment from parents which is so important at a young age, it can have a really damaging impact on early brain development.”

Carya programs help parents and families with emotional, social and basic needs support to challenge the major impacts of poverty on Calgary families.  Our programs look to build financial stability, resilience and community connections for a healthy long-term outcome for both parents and children.

Carya’s Back to School Fund supports vulnerable families living below the poverty line in Calgary, because $428 might just break some families.

“It’s true that money isn’t everything but when you’re struggling to meet your family’s basic needs it sure does mean a lot.”

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