The Community Action Poverty Simulation: A Powerful, Interactive Experience, Moving People to Make a Difference

Abstracts from the Kaiser Permanente2018 National Quality Conference


Anna Khachikyan

From Southern California

Background: The Community Action Poverty Simulation promotes greater understanding of poverty in breaking down stereotypes and allowing participants to experience poverty and to step into the real-life situations of others. During the simulation, participants role-play the lives of low-income families, from single parents trying to care for their children to senior citizens trying to maintain their self-sufficiency on Social Security. The simulation opens your eyes to poverty and barriers to health care access.
Methods: According to the US Census, 14.3% of all Californians are at poverty level, which is a household income of $63,783.
Results: One out of every 4 children in California lives below the federal poverty line. Child poverty rates among Latinos and African Americans are much higher (Latino: 30% poverty rate; African American: 31% poverty rate) than for whites (10% poverty rate) and Asians (12% poverty rate). More than 90% of children living in poverty have been born in the US. Children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds have poorer health outcomes.
Discussion: The Community Action Poverty Simulation is a powerful, interactive experience designed to help participants understand what a typical low-income family goes through in just trying to survive from month to month. A goal is to sensitize participants to the realities faced by low-income people and how those social and cultural contexts impact health care. A deeper understanding of barriers to health care access, the underlying causes of those barriers, as well as the impact of those barriers on people living in poverty and their experience of care, would help physicians and health care workers overcome these challenges and provide socially responsive care. Most importantly, it moves people to make a difference.

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