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Poverty Stricken Women and Children in Arizona Given Hope

Since 2007, Arizona’s poverty rate has increased by 37 percent, while poverty rates nationwide have declined. Arizona’s Legislature has recently cut many programs that help low-income families and there are currently more than 4,300 children on the waiting list for child-care subsidies through the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

This is the case in many states around the country, which is why the Women’s Funding Network and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation have awarded $150,000 to four organizations in these struggling cities, including the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona. This foundation was chosen due to its proven ability to advocate for smarter practices that not only support struggling women, but their families as well.

The national award supports “two-generation” solutions to poverty, following the theory that if children of struggling parents are given help at an early age, they can break the cycle of poverty and lead successful lives as adults. The money will be used over a three-year period for things such as advocacy and grant making. Overseers will constantly be researching the impact certain programs will have on the community and adjust the programs based on their findings.

The money will first go towards the creation of public-private partnerships that will hopefully bolster workforce development and career opportunities for low-income women. Access to quality childcare and early childhood education will also be provided to the families working with the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona.

“This is about creating a connection between child-care systems and workforce systems,” said Dawne Bell, the CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona. “Women’s foundations are really poised to be at the forefront of the two-generation approach. Our whole vision is: When women thrive, our community prospers.”

According to research done by the Foundation, the cost of a licensed child-care center for one young child is over $800 a month This comes to more than 75 percent of the monthly income of a single mother living at the federal poverty level. In most cases, it makes more sense for the parent to stay unemployed and watch their child on their own rather than work just to put their child in daycare.

Without a degree, it is difficult to find a job that pays higher than minimum wage. Most single parents end up going back to school, which is very costly and time consuming. This is why Arizona schools like Pima Community College will soon be implementing block scheduling due to the grant received by the Women’s Funding Network. This type of scheduling will prevent parents from having to spend more time on campus than necessary.

“When we talk about making [improvements] in generational poverty, approaching it from a two-generation perspective is imperative,” said Amanda Abens, the Dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education at Pima Community College. “Being able to have the resources to learn what it is and to learn strategies to implement it we will all be better off and our economy will be better off.”

The Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona is helping women get out of poverty and help their children lead successful lives. It gives hope to women around the country that things can and will get better.

Featured Image by OilBac on Flickr

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