The federal government has supports in place intended to assist low income families to obtain the necessary child care, so the parent or parents may join or remain in the workforce. This support comes in the form of child care subsidies or vouchers, and the programs are implemented in varying ways in each state. In many families with children, the household budget sheet requires both parents to work in order to sustain the family. The expenditure for childcare as a percentage of household income can exceed the cost of housing for median income families. In low income households, this creates and untenable situation where salaries from work do not cover monthly obligations.
The federal government has been assisting needy families with child care expenses since the nineteen thirties during the Great Depression. During this era, a need was recognized for there to be a safe place for poverty-stricken children to go during the day. A place to serve as a relief to their own situation that would provide food, structure, and instruction; that would also serve to benefit the parents by allowing them time to work, search for work, or learn skills that might improve their lot in life. These nursery school programs were developed by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and provided services to participants in home relief, the predecessor to Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Once the acute need of the Great Depression dissipated, so did the interest in funding for the program. The FERA was created in 1932 and was replaced in 1935 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
World War II brought a renewed interest in providing out of home care to children. This time as a means to allow women to join the workforce to provide much needed labor in war related industry. This was funded in two ways. First by the Lanham Act, which was directed mostly to areas of California where there was a high density of war related industry. The remainder of the Works Progress Administration still in place from the Depression, was again set in motion to provide care centers for use by any working mother, not just those of low economic means as in previous use. Once again, once the overwhelming cause of the need declined with the end of the war, funding to these programs ended. In later decades, studies of what is most beneficial to children, simple care and supervision or actual structured lessons were conducted. They discovered that preschool-aged children benefit from structured lessons with educational goals. As a part of President Johnson’s Great Society legislation, a new program was initiated that would merge the qualities of childcare with education. The program was called Head Start. Other funding for childcare was provided for families participating in AFDC.
The Federal government has provided funding for child care subsidies since the time of Johnson, but popularity of these programs has often been a source of conflict among legislators due to its expense. In 1971, President Nixon vetoed the Comprehensive Child Development Act. This Act would have provided federal funding to make available child care to all children, regardless of income, as an intrinsic right. Though Nixon backed the idea of child care supports from the Federal government, he decided that it was not the time for the government to make such a sizeable commitment. 1974’s Title XX provided funding for a number of programs, including child care subsidy. These funds were to be used at the discretion of the state and by the early 80’s most funds were being directed to more urgent needs. During the seventies and eighties, there was a cultural shift. Where once it was expected that one parent stay home to provide family care, now it was becoming the expectation that both parents work to financially support the family. This shift in ideology prompted a shift in federal child care policy, which will be discussed in the next installment.
For further reading:
Lessons in the Current Puerto Rican Disaster
Those who have worked in disaster areas know that coordination and transport can be difficult, but with the USS Comfort leaving Puerto Rico after admitting less than 300 patients when there is unmet need isn’t a great sign of success. Hurricane Maria made landfall on September 20, 2017. The Comfort, which is essentially a floating specialty hospital arrived in Puerto Rico on October 3rd. November 8th, the Comfort was restocked with supplies but then departed shortly thereafter for “no apparent reason” after providing outpatient services to somewhere around 1500 patients, according to the DOD.
…”I know that we have capacity. I know that we have the capability to help. What the situation on the ground is … that’s not in my lane to make a decision,” he said. “Every time that we’ve been tasked by (Puerto Rico’s) medical operation center to respond or bring a patient on, we have responded (Captain of the USS Comfort to CNN).”
The death count is still hazy, and there is difficulty in confirming how many died during- or as a result, of the disaster. One group is doing a funeral home count because information is difficult to obtain. CNN has found through a recent investigation that the death toll appears to be more than 9 times the official government report.
Coordination on a micro, mezzo and macro level must come from multidisciplinary sectors to problem solve. There are many good people working to rebuild Puerto Rico, but there is far too much apathy, throwing up of hands, and of course, corruption. Many of the Social Work Grand Challenges are highlighted in Puerto Rico alongside the UN Global Goals.
The Whitefish linemen are making $41-64 per hour to restore power to Puerto Rico’s Grid, but the US government is being billed for more than $319 per hour. Whitefish just called a strike because they have not been paid. This, of course, is having a terrible impact on those who are in the most need.
Where do you come in? We tend to think of trauma on a psychological level: family members and friends who are missing, grief, anxiety, and depression due to home and job loss as well as connecting with those close to you, each processing the trauma differently.
On the mezzo level, we are working with smaller groups and institutions, of which there are many in disaster or mass casualty events. Local churches, schools, nonprofits and local chapters of larger scale organizations attempt to unite in the local area to help speed services to those that need it most. Often this is where many of the challenges lie. Each organization has their own protocols which may not match up with larger scale efforts of the government or international organizations.
On a practical level, resources are often short on a disaster scene- there are not enough clinicians to meet with clients individually, at least not for more than a few minutes at a time. We revert to what the American Red Cross refers to as “Psychological First Aid”. Human networks through nodes (like shelters) provide a sense of community and belonging when all is lost, with individuals acting as brokers between networks that previously didn’t have ties.
Ground efforts can be supported by a drone equipped with a camera to see if there is a possibility of reaching a scheduled neighborhood by car, saving countless minutes that matter. The aerial shots from 3 days ago may no longer be relevant. The water may have receded but now a home has landed there, blocking road access.
The volunteers mapping from satellite images can instantly beam their work from anywhere (tracing homes, schools, possible military vehicle parking areas or temporary helipads) while teams on the ground stare at a water covered road, unsure of what is beneath. Life saving choices are made with options and all levels working together. This is how neighborhood Facebook groups saved lives- they were the eyes on the ground in their own neighborhood that identified who was in the most danger.
Facebook may no longer be the hippest new technology (we are nearing the decade and a half mark) but it is arguably the most ubiquitous and well supported (crashes rarely). Many survivors could make a post but were unable to call or text from the same device. An important component to the multi-level view is the understanding that macro tools like mapping serve micro and mezzo levels.
Being a survivor in an active disaster can quietly morph into anxiety, depression and survivor’s guilt. Being able to participate in practical support efforts can boost the well being of survivors as well. Friends of friends of friends and influencers in social networks have proven to be incredibly powerful. It’s what happens when “mixed networks” collide.
As we move to a macro level, there’s a realization that there is a great deal of organic movement in even the best planned days for rescue effort workers. Do you stop here where the need is great (and went unreported) even though it’s blocking you from reaching the mapped area that your team has already scheduled? This is where technology for good can make the difference. Depending on your training and background, you may make a different choice. Who is in charge of the government response, and how do we help change course if it is failing? How do we know if the efforts match our resources?
The simple answer is that we are there to communicate it with others, on all levels—including the virtual one. This may mean volunteering for rescue efforts, collecting tampons in your hometown, or using your own technology for good by mapping for workers on the ground that are not sure what lies beneath—you are helping to ensure their safety and mental well being. In turn, you get to pass that knowledge into your own networks.
Who Listens When You Lack Power and Privilege?
How do we differentiate who we are from what we are? Do titles really define who we are or what we think about people? Do we not care about who they are as a person; their morals, values, and stances?
We are asked as children what we want to be when we grow up, which is often answered by a title – a police officer, teacher, a professional athlete. We don’t get asked who we want to be, or what we want to be known for.
We often assign respect and obedience to certain titles without thinking the expectations we have of someone who holds it. Some may exceed expectations, and others may not be close to meeting them. But, what do we do when we learn who they are as a person and not the title they hold?
A professional football player kneeled during the national anthem because police officers were not meeting the expectations society has relayed on them. But rather than join his efforts in holding them accountable for their deadly actions, he lost his job for getting involved in something that isn’t part of his job description.
Collin Kaepernick’s job is to be a quarterback and not protest injustices which is what some of his critics say. He showed us who he is as a person, what he stands for, and what he believes in. In return, he is villainized and no longer is he considered a good football player, but has been rebranded as a troublemaker. Is that fair?
Power and privilege are two concepts that most people strive to obtain, but some may never achieve it. These two things are primarily held in the hands of white men in America. Minorities lack the social status to have powerful messages heard and understood by White America which often leads to relying on our white counterparts to understand our situation in order for something to get done.
Collin Kaepernick had a platform at his disposal which was the NFL. He used his stage in hopes of giving a voice to an issue troubling his community because this was something “white America” isn’t experiencing, nor could they understand the lived fear people of color have of the police.
Because this was something the majority did not understand, Kaepernick’s behavior was too radical for unaffected to be willing to listen and pay attention to the real issue, police brutality. Kneeling during the flag and national anthem was not about disrespecting the flag or national anthem. His kneeling was to bring attention to an epidemic faced by a particular group of Americans.
When we often hold positions of power, we expect others to listen to us and conform to our desires. When something is not presented how we like it, we are less likely to value that person and what they believe.
One of the core values of the social work profession is the dignity and worth of the person. Acknowledging the reality that not everyone will be affected the same. The willingness to listen to others when they’re trying to tell their story can go as far as saving someone’s life.
If the reasoning for Kaepernick’s kneeling had been met with empathy when he shared why he was kneeling, the issue of police brutality would have remained the center of the issue instead of NFL players being called “sons of bitches” by the President of the United States because he doesn’t like them kneeling.
If the people in power, the NFL stakeholders, the President of the United States, and other officials who can hold law enforcement accountable, cared as much about issues like police brutality as they did about football players kneeling, American lives could literally be saved.
Unfortunately, when minorities with no standing and power in America try to bring awareness to social issues where minorities are also the victims, no one seems willing to listen or do anything about it.
The Grand Challenge of Thoughts and Prayers
The snapping sound of my laptop closing echoed in the room as I stared up at the ceiling and shoved it aside along with the glaring screen and endless scroll of ‘thoughts and prayers‘. Realizing that I had a visceral reaction to seeing ‘thoughts and prayers’ tweeted out by well-meaning people for I’m not sure how many thousands of times now. I puzzled over why this time caused more reaction than other similar events. I won’t even bother to name the incident because it will be dated by the time I finish this article.
The endless snark of the social media blame game (this includes me at times, it’s a coping mechanism) and the seeming avoidance of meaningful action post “marking” events like Sandy Hook or Las Vegas in its level of horror was just too much today.
Maybe it’s the stark nothingness that has followed. In the subsequent, daily violence, the blame of outsiders, leadership, anyone but ourselves for taking action that will result in change, is what must change.
What’s my bias, you ask? The lack of action from anyone posting about guns, walls, terror, foreigners or travel bans outside of snide social media posts. I beg everyone to take meaningful action and then share that on your social media.
Let’s start with the pro-gun people.
Individuals who believe we need guns to protect ourselves from a corrupt government or to keep yourself safe from harm.
Your Action: Go take a class on how to be a hero to satisfy your John Wayne fantasies without getting anyone else or yourself, killed in the process.
I’m quite serious under the sarcastic tone. I think it’s 99% fantasy that you are going to contribute to stopping mass shooters, but at least you are doing something. Share about the awesome class you’ve taken, and how you’ve reduced your “freeze time” in reacting to a guy with a semi-automatic weapon pointed at you or family members while at school, church, the local Walmart or while watching the latest Disney movie at the theatre. Practice should certainly help you if you find yourself at a packed outdoor concert with thousands of people. Make sure to take the advanced class at aiming for shooters at 15 plus stories above (also without shooting bystanders or others in the building). Make sure to share with everyone the smoke signals you learned to share with the local law enforcement, who will surely appreciate your well -trained help in the next mass shooting incident.
NRA Defensive Pistol Course
The NRA Defensive Pistol course will focus on the techniques needed to develop a defensive mindset. The goal of the course will be to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary to carry and use a concealed pistol ethically, responsibly and with confidence… This course is only conducted by NRA certified Advanced Pistol Instructors.
NRA FIRST Steps Rifle Orientation
Firearm Instruction, Responsibility, and Safety Training is the NRA’s response to the American public’s need for a firearm orientation program for new purchasers.
You can even check their ratings on Yelp.
Next, let’s talk with the travel ban people.
Your Action: Get a big paper map
Get yourself a world map- the type that covers your entire wall, old- school style with accessorized colored push- pins. I won’t tell you how to code your travel ban countries but you’ll need to, in 4th-grade style, create a key and chart about the history of mass shootings in the US and make sure we’re covering the right countries. Don’t let phrases like “extra super extreme vetting” confuse you.
Better yet, just list the countries that you believe pose a danger to America based on recent history (I’m trying to be reasonable- perhaps since 2007?). Then look at the travel ban list- how do they match up? If they don’t, there’s your short list of action items. Find out why the “terrorist countries” aren’t on the list then contact your local, state and federal representatives about it. Share that on your social media.
Here’s a link to the Department of State: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/news/important-announcement.html
For the “Build the Wall” people:
Do you want to build a wall to keep out people who fly here? Who are you trying to keep out? If it’s the Terrorist Catholics from Mexico you’ll need to make that case, but far too many responses to news and social media reports are reactionary to terrorists who flew here on an airplane or actually live here in the US.
Your Action: Check the country of origin for the latest mass shooting or terror attack on the map and compare it to the travel ban list to see if your noise on social media is adding to creating change or confusing the uneducated. If they can’t walk here, surely it’s the latter.
For gun safety or anti-gun people:
Know what “they” have for support and organizing versus what you do. There’s money all around, but being a paid member of a club like the National Rifle Association gives a base of actionable information sharing that those who lack organized structure do not. Gun safety advocates need to reach out to the community and invite them in, not just ask for donations about something they believe is obvious and based on moral outrage. Teach others how to organize- the NRA’s annual meeting has something like 80,000 members present every year. Professor Harie Han wrote about this in “How Organizations Develop Activists” which I stumbled upon while looking for others who think along similar lines.
Using terms like “gun violence prevention” is more useful and descriptive for most arguments (and reflective of almost all Americans) rather than “gun control”. An easy action item is to learn your local and state laws on gun violence prevention and join an already established group like Everytown that is making headway and has coffee meetups for new members. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
Most of all, do rather than say– then share what you’re doing and why. Your focused time will reflect your passion for change and will be more likely to draw others in.
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