Families with children and living in poverty are vulnerable to decreased control over their lives and the ability to act in self‐interest. While having children may reduce efficacy among these families, their presence may also, in turn, increase their resilience. Using cross‐sectional data from n= 194 poor families in Southeastern USA, this study compares the constructs of self‐efficacy and agency between families with and without children. Results showed that among families with children, lack of agency was negatively correlated with self‐efficacy Δχ2 (1, n= 194) = 12.65, P < 0.001, r=−0.37. Implications are directed towards practice and policy that may increase the efficacy and agency of poor families with children.