Growing up in a deprived environment can have a profoundly negative effect on a child’s development. Children from deprived backgrounds are more likely to be placed in special education, fail courses, and complete fewer years of schooling. The effect of early deprivation is also persistent – growing up in poverty can set a life-long trajectory associated with poor physical and mental well-being. However, many disadvantaged children are highly resilient. We aim to explore how cognition, character, social influences and neural mechanisms interact to promote this resilient flourishing. This resilience offers the opportunity to identify positive influences that counteract the typical developmental consequences of deprivation. By better understanding what these are we hope to provide an evidence-base for future targeted interventions that promote the positive development of all children, regardless of their background.
This longitudinal study Flourishing despite disadvantage: understanding resilience in children growing up in poverty will follow 700 children over four years. It combines the expertise of Duncan Astle (MRC CBSU), Clare Hughes (Psychology, University of Cambridge), Michelle Ellefson (Education, University of Cambridge) and Mark Woolrich (University of Oxford). In addition to funding from the MRC the project is supported by the Templeton World Charitable Foundation (TWCF). The TWCF supports discoveries that relate to the big questions of human purpose and the natural world, with the aim of funding projects that have potential for extraordinary impact.