When Single Mothers Make Too Much for Government Help But Too Little to Pay the Bills

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For a single mom with two children in Jefferson County, covering life’s most basic expenses  — rent, food, some health insurance — costs about $49,000 a year. A new report from the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham surveyed single mothers who work full-time, and who earn less than $30,000 a year. WBHM’s Gigi Douban spoke with Jeanne Jackson, president and CEO of The Women’s Fund about the difficulties many of these working mothers face. Here are a few highlights:

 

By the Numbers

Single Working Moms Earning Less than $30,000 a year in the Birmingham Metro Area — 15,000

Median wage for female-headed family households in Jefferson County — $29,396

Percent of low-income mothers who have had trouble paying the bills — 93 percent

Percent of income spent on childcare for women earning less than $30,000 a year — 39 percent

Percent of income spent on childcare for women earning more than $30,000 a year — 13 percent

 

Single Working Mothers Need These Four Things

A living wage

Quality, flexible, affordable child care

More flexibility in work schedules

A better support network

That’s according to the Women’s Fund report. Respondents to the survey work at companies including Brookwood Baptist Health, Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, Regions Bank, and The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

 

Breaking the Cycle 

“We had been supporting women who were ready to go back to college and helping them with skills and post-secondary education to move them into higher wage jobs,” Jackson says. “It had been very successful. We moved lots of women or helped lots of women move into higher wage jobs. What we began to realize, though, is if they moved into higher wage jobs but were making less than $30,000 working full-time, sometimes working two jobs working for our largest employers — UAB, Regions — they were having a lot of difficulties making ends meet.

 

Corporations Improve Wages and Child Care Options

UAB last year increased its minimum wage from $8.24 to $11 per hour.

Children’s of Alabama provides emergency back-up child care and mildly ill childcare for children ages 3 months to 12 years. It’s also available daily for new parents of infants.

Regions Bank subsidizes child care at TodayCare Children’s Center as an employee benefit.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama offers a child care facility for employees at the company’s Birmingham location near the company’s corporate office.

 

Paying for School

There are grants for single mothers to help pay for higher education. The Women’s Fund also issues grants to support programs that help women with job skills, education, childcare support, and homeownership.

 

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