|The child is eligible to
receive free or reduced-cost meals pursuant to the provision
of the Federal “National School Lunch Act”, 42 U.S.C. sec.
1751 et seq. (22-28-106 (1) (a.5) (I) C.R.S.).
Many social services that families may use also determine eligibility through income requirements. The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is the most widely used standardized measure.
“Free and reduced meals,” for example, uses measures of 135% FPL and 185% FPL, respectively. Therefore, it is not necessary to define and/or qualify a child under additional income-related eligibility factors (such as eligible/receiving WIC, TANF, Food Stamps, and Medicaid) as free and reduced lunch encompasses the broader category of “low income” and “facing economic hardship.”
In some communities, the free and reduced lunch meal count does not accurately reflect the need among families. In areas where the cost of living is high, measures of self-sufficiency may provide a more accurate reflection of need or risk among children and families.
|Significance of Factor in regards to School Readiness||The free and reduced meal
rate is a proxy for poverty because it is linked to a
family’s income and family size. Low-income children start
school behind their more advantaged peers, and research
shows that this achievement gap continues through the school
Poverty is particularly detrimental to children and impacts overall healthy development. Low-income children have smaller vocabularies and are less likely to know their letters and numbers. Young children from low-income families score lower on tests of early learning and math. They are also more likely to face social and economic problems later in life, including illiteracy, teen pregnancy, high dropout rates and unemployment1.
Children’s social competence and ability to self-regulate are also linked to income; children from lower-income families have lower reported levels in these skills2.
Brain development research shows a sensitive period from prenatal through the first few years of life, when the brain is most able to respond to and grow from environmental stimulation. Children in poverty are disproportionately exposed to risk factors that negatively influence brain development.
|How It May Be Documented||
The Family Economic Data Survey may be used in place of the free and reduced meal form.
1Yazejian, N., & Bryant, D. (2009). Promising early returns: Educare implementation study data. Chapel Hill: FPG Child Development Institute, UNCCH.
2Gershoff , E. (November 2003). Low income and the development of America’s kindergartners. Living at the Edge – Research Brief No. 4., National Center for Children in Poverty. Retrieved August 7, 2009, from http://www.nccp.org/publications/pdf/text_533.pdf
3National Center for Children in
Poverty. (June 1999). Poverty and brain development in early
childhood. Retrieved August 7, 2009, from
Additional Resources for Families and Staff:
Memo regarding collecting family economic data: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdechart/download/pdf/LISTSERV07/msgcsatt052009-2.pdf
Self-Sufficiency Table - The Colorado Division of Local Government has created a Self Sufficiency Standards Table which outlines self-sufficiency wages based on family size and composition, available at http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?c=Page&childpagename=DOLA-Main%2FCBONLayout&cid=1251593313660&pagename=CBONWrapper
The Family Economic Data Survey (can be used in place of free and reduced meal form) http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdefinance/FamilyEconomicDataSurvey.htm
Updated Guidance for Release of Disclosure
of Children’s Eligibility Information to Education