BLOG: KNOWLEDGE SHARE
The Cliff Effect and Other Perils on the Journey to Self-Sufficiency
Hope House of Colorado’s mission is to help teen moms become self-sufficient, which means addressing a complex set of issues, both financially and personally. Last month’s blog addressed generational poverty and how difficult it is to bridge out of poverty because of the value placed on relationships – relationships that are often unhealthy. This month the focus is on financial independence and the critical challenges our girls face as they work toward self-sufficiency.
The “cliff effect” is a term often used to describe the problem poor working families face when even a modest increase in income leads to the reduction or loss of government benefits. The “cliff effect” is a particular danger for single mothers, especially the loss of CCAP (Colorado Childcare Assistance Program) or government subsidized childcare.
Take Aeriel, who graduated from our Residential program in 2012. She faced the reality of the cliff effect when she was given a very modest raise, bringing her hourly wage to approximately $14 an hour and causing her to immediately lose CCAP benefits. The result? Her childcare costs rose from $250 a month with CCAP to $750 a month – clearly more than her $1 an hour pay raise would cover. Her raise was going to cause a significant backward slide on her journey toward self-sufficiency.
A recent story in the Denver Post observed that “families facing the cliff effect have turned down raises or promotions to avoid losing essential benefits.” This is exactly what Aeriel was forced to do… she asked her supervisor to decrease her wage so she could maintain her childcare assistance.
Not surprisingly, the fact that the majority of our teen moms dropped out of school by 9th grade further complicates matters. In fact, a whopping 80% of women without at least some college education make less than the Self-sufficiency Standard, according to a study conducted by the University of Washington’s School of Social Work.
Our teen mothers are determined to overcome these complex issues, and with the help of a small army of volunteers and business owners, Hope House is helping them do so. Individual tutoring with volunteers in our GED Lab has led to an 80% graduation rate, but fewer than half of those girls are completing post-secondary education programs or schools. We are committed to changing this reality.
On September 10th, Hope House will launch a Learning Lab, providing tutoring, access to computers and the Internet, and professional development courses to our girls who are in either college or vocational school.
Our goal is to help our teen moms finish their education. Our mission is to help them stay on their journey to self-sufficiency and finish strong, creating a new future for themselves and their children… effectively breaking the cycle of poverty.
By Lisa Steven, Executive Director, Hope House of Colorado
Career Partners Program: Calling all business owners and managers
Hope House is hosting a breakfast on September 25th for business owners and managers who are interested in joining our Career Partners Program, which provides employment and job internships for our teen moms. This innovative program allows our girls to gain the skills and experience necessary to earn wages that will allow them to no longer need government assistance.
For more information, contact Lynn Martinez at 303.429..1012, ext. 223.
Knowledge Share #8: Breaking Out of Poverty - 08/18/2016
Knowledge Share #7: Creating a Home - 07/11/2016
Knowledge Share #6: The Power of Mindset - 06/14/2016
Knowledge Share #5: College or Bust! - 05/17/2016
Knowledge Share #4:Understanding Addiction - 04/07/2016
Knowledge Share #3:Mentoring Empowers Teen Moms - 03/21/2016
Knowledge Share #2: Healthy Relationships - 02/11/2016
Knowledge Share #1: Brain Development - 01/12/2016
Teen Mom Barrier #8: Communicating the Barriers - 12/16/2015
Teen Mom Barrier #7: Homelessness - 10/09/2015
TEEN MOM BARRIER #6: GENERATIONAL POVERTY - 07/16/2015
Teen Mom Barrier Number #5: Domestic Violence - 06/03/2015
Teen Mom Barrier # 4 The Challenges of College - 05/12/2015
Teen Mom Barrier #2: Childcare - 02/18/2015
Teen Mom Barrier #1: Society's Negative Expectations - 01/26/2015
Teen Mom Misconceptions #5: Success is Impossible - 09/22/2014
Misconception #3: Mentoring Teen Moms is Complicated - 06/05/2014
Because they want someone to love them? - 05/21/2014
Teen Moms - A Persecuted Population? - 04/22/2014
Community - 01/20/2014
8 Pennies - 12/18/2013
"The most courageous young women I know." - 11/14/2013
Our Graduates: In their hands, they hold the future! - 09/30/2013
Measuring the Intangible - 06/15/2013
Grown-Up Mom - 05/01/2013
Misconception #4: Shaming Teen Moms is an Effective Approach
Eva said: I am so proud of Vanessa good friend of mine and mother. [more]