If you thought there was no relation between poverty and health, think again. There is no doubt that poverty and poor health are linked. Poverty is a massive barrier to accessing health care, and it’s also a major cause of health issues. Poverty’s harsh effects can start before babies are born and pile up throughout their adult lives. The Bridges Out of Poverty model targets this issue in a powerful way.
Bridges Out of Poverty
Guest Post: Frances Rodriguez-Gonzales, Human Resources Coordinator with the Pueblo County Department of Social Services & Jaelee Reliford, Training Specialists for Child Support Services
Social determinants to health are defined as “the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources at global, national, and local levels.
Dr. Ruby K. Payne, founder of aha! Process, developed the Bridges Out of Poverty model in 1999, four years after her original book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty was published. The tone of her book, Bridges Out of Poverty, is set in the beginning, with some profound key points to remember:
- For clients to be successful, we must understand their hidden rules and teach them the rules that will make them successful at school, at work, and in the community.
- We can neither excuse persons from poverty nor scold them for not knowing; as professionals, we must teach them and provide support, insistence, and expectations.
- In order to move from poverty to middle class or middle class to wealth, an individual must give up relationships for achievement (at least for some period of time).
- We cannot blame the victims of poverty for being in poverty. Economic systems are far beyond the reach of most people to control. Factories close, small farms fold, racism persists, and the economy fails to provide enough well-paying jobs.
- We cannot continue to support stereotypes and prejudices about the poor. There are many forms of welfare, but the poor are the only ones who are labeled “undeserving.” Others who receive welfare are students with government fellowships, homeowners with federal-tax and mortgage-interest deductions, corporations with government subsidies, and military bases that are kept open to prevent job loss.
To understand poverty, it is important to understand all classes: poverty, middle-class, and wealth. Poverty, middle class, and wealth are about an abundance or lack of resources. To better understand people of poverty, poverty must be defined as “the extent to which an individual does without resources.”
The Bridges Out of Poverty model includes information related to nine resources: financial, emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, support systems, relationships/role models, knowledge of hidden rules, and coping strategies. Poverty is blamed on lack of financial resources only, but poverty is about more than the choices of the poor. Financial resources do not show us why someone has chosen to leave or remain in poverty. Whether an individual is living in situational or generational poverty, each of the resources mentioned above can play a significant role in how successful an individual is.
Bridges Out of Poverty strives to build “aha” moments for its participants, helping them gain a broader, deeper understanding of economic class and how it impacts their work, their community, and their lives.
If we as a community can all build the bridges, we can contribute to a culture shift in the area of poverty. A culture shift in poverty ultimately leads to a culture shift in health, and we in turn will make Pueblo County the healthiest county in Colorado.
For more information on this and other strategies to overcoming poverty, visit www.ahaprocess.com