Los Angeles, CA (June 25, 2014) – I have two stories to tell, both about single mothers living in deep poverty and raising children alone – without even the most basic of support systems that none of us could do without…The first story made the national news; the second story came to me via a phone call from the mother herself.
Story #1: A Job Seeker’s Desperate Choice! – By SHAILA DEWAN, NY TIMES –
On the morning of March 20, Shanesha Taylor had a job interview. It was for a good job, one that could support her three children, unlike the many positions she’d applied for that paid only $10 an hour. The interview, at an insurance agency in Scottsdale, Ariz., went well. “Walking out of the office, you know that little skip thing people do?” she said, clicking her heels together in a corny expression of glee. “I wanted to do that.”
But as she left the building and walked through the parking lot, she saw police officers surrounding her car, its doors flung open and a crime-scene van parked nearby. All the triumphant buoyancy of the moment vanished, replaced by a hard, sudden knot of panic. Hours later, Ms. Taylor was posing for a mug shot, her face somber and composed, a rivulet of tears falling from each eye. A subsequent headline in The Huffington Post said it all: “Shanesha Taylor, Homeless Single Mom, Arrested After Leaving Kids in Car While on Job Interview.”
The article ricocheted across the Internet. Many viewed her story — that she, unable to find child care, had left her two sons, aged 6 months and 2 years, in her 2006 Dodge Durango while she went to a 70-minute job interview — as emblematic of the harsh realities of today’s economy, where jobs are scarce and well-paid ones even scarcer, and where desperate choices have become common. Certainly, many people could identify with the cruel math of Ms. Taylor’s pretrial report, which put her monthly income at $1,232 (including food stamps), while her monthly expenses totaled $1,274.
Ms. Taylor, 35, was charged with two counts of felony child abuse, and soon became the subject of syndicated columns calling her the “true face of poverty,” petitions asking the prosecutor to drop charges and a crowd-sourced fund-raising campaign that gathered $115,000. After 10 days in jail, she was freed after strangers paid her $9,000 bail…….
THE REST OF THE ARTICLE, INCLUDING THE CONTINUING BACKLASH, CAN BE FOUND HERE: nytimes/a-job-seekers-desperate-choice
Story #2: A Desperate Mother’s Poor Choice!
This is a much shorter story – and there is no good ending here. A month ago, I received a phone call from a distraught woman in a California coastal town begging me for help. Homeless, she had been living in a Motel 6 with her 10-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, barely surviving on a TANF grant and Food Stamps, but was also quite ill. While her daughter was in school, she had been seeking healthcare at a local clinic, taking her young son with her. She said that the staff and nurses were often angry at her for bringing the squirming little boy along, where he had to endure long waits and disturbed the other patients. She was finally scheduled for some tests that required her to come alone – and so she left her two-year-old in the motel room in the care of her school-age daughter. She knew this was a poor choice but felt like she had no other! Needless to say, the little boy was found alone in the motel parking lot, the authorities were called, and the children were removed from their mother into foster care. The children are separated, she has not seen them in six months, and she said that she “can’t move, can’t make choices, can’t go on with her life” until she has her children back. In fact, her parental rights were soon to be terminated! Granted I don’t know the whole story, but the similarities between the two stories were too great to ignore. Any thoughts on this?
Tanya Tull, ScD – President/CEO, Partnering for Change