The Consequences of Food Insecurity for Children with Disabilities in the Early Elementary School Years
Although food insecurity has been shown to place children’s developmental outcomes at risk, less is known about how children with disabilities fare if they are raised in households experiencing food insecurity. To address this gap in the evidence base, this chapter investigates how food insecurity relates to the behavioral outcomes of young school-aged children with disabilities. Analyses on data from a sample of approximately 1420 children with disabilities from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11, show that household food insecurity led to a significant decline in the attentional focus of children with disabilities. Further, results demonstrate that children from homes who exited out of food insecurity and subsequently became food secure experienced significant gains in their attentional focus. Other outcomes, including children’s inhibitory control, were not significantly linked to food insecurity. These results demonstrate the negative ramifications of food insecurity on children with disabilities, an understudied group highly vulnerable to food insecurity. Strengthening supports aimed at families raising children with disabilities to help address root causes of food insecurity may not only promote overall family functioning, but it may also have critical implications for improving the developmental wellbeing of children under their responsibility and care.