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It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has been severe for millions of moms.
Trying to juggle work amid constant uncertainty about childcare has caused many mothers to be disappointed in the third year of the pandemic.
While the difficult choice between work and upbringing has come as a shock to middle- and upper-income women, low-income women have already faced these trade-offs before the national health crisis hit, according to Chestiti Lord, Jeremiah’s director general , a non-profit organization. an organization dedicated to helping single mothers and their children overcome poverty.
“Many of our moms knew the system wasn’t working until the pandemic,” Lord said.
“The system stopped working for the middle class and upper middle class where they couldn’t throw money at it, and so it became a nationwide conversation,” she said.
The dilemma sheds light on the “poverty tax” faced by many single women, which threatens the stability of their work and opportunities for higher education.
“Single moms with young children matter,” Lord said. “They are an incredibly large group in our country, and disproportionately single mothers are at poverty or below.”
The Jeremiah program is working to break this cycle of poverty for single mothers in nine U.S. cities.
The list includes more than 1,500 single mothers and their children in Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Brooklyn, New York; Boston; Fargo, North Dakota; Las Vegas; Rochester, Minnesota and Minneapolis St. Paul.
To date, the organization, founded 24 years ago, has helped more than 4,000 single mothers and their children.
The Jeremiah program focuses on helping women enter college and graduate. To help them achieve this, they have access to personal training, childcare and early childhood education, safe and affordable housing, and training on topics including financial literacy, positive upbringing and mental health.
According to Lord, an ordinary mother who has been involved in the program for about 27 years, she has one or two children and is looking for a way to start all over again.
All participants are enrolled in the school, which is mandatory. More than 80% are colored people, including 50% – black and 25% – Latinos.
The program, which is mostly privately funded, finds applicants through media advertising and work with community organizations.
The program begins with a 12-week training in empowerment and leadership, where participants develop a plan of what they want to achieve in their lives.
“Creating such a space for this type of engagement and this type of dream is a truly incredible first time for many of our moms,” Lord said.
26-year-old Andromeda Vega had a hard time reconciling the training of nurses and the life of a new mother when she first heard about the Jeremiah Program.
In August 2019, she moved to the program campus in Austin, Texas.
Admission to the Jeremiah program helped her regain her academic work after the birth of her 3-year-old daughter in 2018.
By the time Vega leaves in 2025, she expects to receive three degrees. This includes a junior specialist degree in nursing, which she has already completed, a junior specialist degree in nursing, which she is due to receive in December, and then a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Moreover, the program meant stability for her daughter, who is studying at a child development center in the same building where they live. School staff are working with Vega to improve her parenting skills, and other mothers in the building have set up a community to help each other.
This includes helping Vega deliver her daughter to and from school if she is unable due to a 12-hour clinical day at the hospital.
If Vega had not enrolled in the Jeremiah program, she would not have been able to achieve nearly as much academic success. She would probably also be in a toxic relationship and struggling to make ends meet, she said.
Admission to the program has helped her step back and reevaluate her life, which she believes will have lasting consequences even after her departure.
“Now I have different views and standards of what I want in my life and what I can live without, and what I want for my child and myself,” Vega said.
What’s more, for each semester of school she graduates, the program invests $ 100 in a college 529 savings plan for her daughter.
“She’s three years old and she has a savings account to go to college,” Vega said. “Even to say it’s such a big deal because my mom didn’t even have a savings account.”