Notes from the president – Poor children at risk

By Barbara Goodmon

Across Wake County, 900 children, including kindergartners, may soon be coming home from school to empty houses because of a $1.5 million shortfall in day-care subsidies.

This shortfall will force Wake County Human Services to terminate subsidies for before-school and after-school care for these children.

Without subsidies, parents will be forced to choose between their job or jobs, and after-school supervision.

And another 2,000 pre-school and school-age children are waiting to receive day-care subsidies.

Accessible quality day-care available to all families who need it means that children are safer and more likely to come to school ready to learn and succeed.

It means working parents can stay employed or in school, contributing to the economy by being givers, not takers.

And it means day-care programs can continue to stay in business, which means jobs for folks.

Many of the parents we are talking about have been clients of Work First, a state program to help people stay off welfare or move from welfare to jobs.

Work First, begun in July 1995, has been extremely successful in changing the mentality of welfare clients from a handout to a hand up.

It has moved the majority of people from welfare to self-sufficiency. Clients are put on a 60-month clock, during which time they receive the support services needed to get employment, day-care, transportation and meet other needs.

These parents typically will have to work more than one job to support their families because they are not paid cost-of-living wages, but they are willing to do this.

Most of them have used up their 60 months to get where they are today.

By cutting out the day-care subsidy, government will have to create another handout program to support these people.

This action by the federal and state governments says to me there are elected officials and policymakers out there that like to keep people down.

I suggest we keep up with who supports the cuts and who fights against them. We certainly do not need to re-elect people or keep people in jobs that choose to keep people down.

It is about a hand up, not a hand out. Day-care subsidy empowers parents to self-sufficiency.

Let me know what you are thinking about this issue.

Barbara Goodmon is president of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, which publishes the Philanthropy Journal, and a member of the board of Wake County Human Services.

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