This study aims to gain a deep understanding of the characteristics of poverty and disparities experienced by children living in poor households in urban areas, and factors affecting their experience, seen from the perspective of the children. It utilizes the results from qualitative research conducted in six kelurahan (urban villages) in three cities in Indonesia—North Jakarta, Makassar, and Surakarta—emphasizing grounded participatory principle with children aged 6–17 years as the primary participants. A descriptive statistics analysis on urban child poverty using the 2013 National Socioeconomic Survey (Susenas) complements the qualitative findings.
The findings show that urban children born into poor families experience their parents’ economic hardship and the impact of limited access to quality health and education, as well as poor urban living conditions. Children participating in this research perceive poverty as living with limited access to basic amenities (including clean water, public toilets, and playgrounds) and being constrained in accessing health and education services in everyday lives. In some cases, children have to work to help parents make ends meet which exposed them to risky working environments. Lack in parental supervision and quality care have been other issues revealed by the children as their parents struggle in meeting daily needs.
This study suggests that any intervention and policies aimed at addressing the vulnerability and improving the resilience of urban poor children, will need to consider family as a unit of intervention. Children are found to have the ability to understand the complexity of problems they face every day and how they are interrelated; therefore, this can be seen as an opportunity to actively engage children in the intervention.