This brief uses six measures that assess parent and child health, food security, crowding, access to health care and the family's ability to pay bills. While 22 percent of all children under age 18 live in stressful family environments, nearly half of poor children live in stressful family environments. Children who have stressful family lives are twice as likely to exhibit low school engagement as other children, and youth (ages 12 to 17) are more likely to have high levels of emotional and behavioral problems than younger children (ages 6 to 11). Among the 13 states studied, California had the largest proportion of children in living in families with high levels of stress (30 percent) compared with 15 percent in Wisconsin, the state with the smallest proportion.
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