Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES Exceptional Education had 55 Teacher Assistants experience the virtual realities of poverty in a unique poverty simulation conducted on Thursday, August 24th facilitated by Jillian Putnam, Janelle Freer, and Kelli Forster from the CA BOCES ISS Professional Development Team.
The Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) was designed to help people better understand the realities of poverty. “This program helps people to understand the complexities and frustrations of living in poverty day to day,” and “With a greater awareness of its impact, we can more effectively address the poverty issues in our community” were a few statements made by participants during the simulation.
Using a simulation kit, participants role-played the lives of low-income families. Some were TANF recipients, some were disabled, and others were senior citizens on Social Security. They had the stressful task of providing for basic necessities and shelter on a limited budget during the course of 4 15 minute “weeks.” They interacted with human service agencies, grocers, pawnbrokers, bill collectors, job interviewers, police officers, and others.
More than 37.2 million people are living at or below the federal poverty level or 11.4% of the U.S. population, were living in poverty in 2020, based on official poverty thresholds. 11.6% of Cattaraugus County families live in poverty. 16.7% of the population for whom poverty statis is determined in Allegany County, NY (6.92k out of 41.4k people) live below the poverty line, a number that is higher than the national average of 12.8%.
CAPS enables participants to look at poverty from a variety of angles and then to recognize and discuss the potential for change within their local communities, said Elaine West executive director of the Missouri Association for Community Action, which made the simulation available nationwide. The simulation was designed to sensitize those who frequently deal with low-income families as well as to create a broader awareness of poverty among policymakers, community leaders and others.
The Missouri Association for Community Action is a network of community action agencies throughout the state that provide a variety of services to low-income individuals and families. More information about the Poverty Simulation can be found at the following website www.communityaction.org.
By: Jillian Putnam, CA BOCES Professional Development
On July 18th teachers, administrators and staff took part in a Community Action Poverty Simulation during a Professional Development Summer Work four-day study of Poverty. Approximately 40 Pioneer employees and CA BOCES ISS Staff took part in a simulated month of poverty. Teachers were assigned to family groups while administration, staff and CA BOCES employees supported the families as Community Resource Personnel. In addition, one member of the Community Resources Personnel is a Cattaraugus County Community Action (CCA) Representative. The CCA supports families that struggle to meet their family’s needs of food, clothing and shelter with an extensive list of services and a friendly helpful hand to complete forms and navigate the resources available. You can find out more about Community Action in your county or New York State at the sites listed below.
During the four-day study of Poverty teachers explored strategies and mindsets to adopt in their classrooms and buildings. The four-day study included the work of Eric Jensen in his books, “Poor Students, Rich Teaching” and “Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind”. Teachers were encouraged to find instructional strategies that engage students of all levels of socioeconomic status. Among the ideas teachers considered are: training working memory, using movement and music, adopting an attitude of optimism and gratitude, using cooperative learning and classroom discussions.
If you are interested in a Poverty Simulation for your building/district or would like professional development for your staff around teaching students of poverty please contact Tim Clarke, Kathleen Agnello, Jillian Putnam, Karen Insley or Brendan Keiser.
By: Karen Insley, CA BOCES Professional Development
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