Single Moms in Poverty – Are Programs Designed to Serve Them?

Prosperity Threatened: Perspectives on Childhood Poverty in California is a new report from Next Generation worth checking out.

This section in particular is a wake-up call for policymakers and advocates:

Rates of poverty among single mothers in California also stand out, particularly when observing this trend at the county level. Single mothers make up 22 percent of all households in California with children under the age of 18 years of age.

Among all single parent households, women make of nearly 73 percent of the total, making poverty among single households an issue disproportionately affecting mothers.

As expected, the rates of poverty for single mothers were highest in counties with higher overall poverty rates, as seen in Appendix D, yet the persistence of single mother poverty rates may be their defining feature. In no county outside of Calaveras County do single mother poverty rates dip below 20 percent. And while the statewide poverty rate for single mothers is at a shocking 35.5 percent, there are six counties where the majority of single mothers live in poverty.

If policymakers and advocates were to really consider the implications of single moms and poverty, I think there would be a seismic shift in how we design programs and deliver services.  

Frequently the focus in policy debates is on protecting or expanding existing programs.  Rarely do you hear this question:  If a program is primarily intended to serve single MOMS, how would we design the program?

Take, for example, welfare.  If you were designing a welfare-to-work program to serve a single parent, you would insist upon part-time work as a real option — so that mothers could be available to their children, providing support and nurturance and stopping the generational cycle of poverty.

You would insist upon flex-time, so that doctor’s appointments and parent-teacher conferences would be a priority — not a reason to lose a job.

Schools would offer easy access to social services.  Child care, after-school care and school meals would be available, dependable and engaging for the kids.

Educational training would be a priority — not a hurdle — to help single parents jump-start their financial independence.

Rather than offering one-0n-one counseling and oversight, county services might build social networks to help single parents support one another.

For a host of reasons, the shift to single-parent families is a trend that will not be reversing, despite the admonishments of conservative politicians.  Quite the opposite.

In fact, unless we want to see an economic restructuring of society along gender lines, we better start thinking about how our social services and our workplaces support single moms and do more to design programs that meet their needs.

Corporate Board Rooms Still Not Open Wide to Women

The U.C. Davis School of Management released its annual census that documents how many women serve on corporate boards and in executive positions in California-based  public corporations.  Overall, progress is slower than a slow snail,

Here are the major findings as cited in their executive summary:

Directors

  • Women hold 10.5% of the 3,189 board seats in the 400 largest public companies in California.
  • Almost half (44.8%) of California’s companies have no women directors.
  • 33.8% of the 400 companies have only one woman director.
  • Compared to our 2011 report, there has been a slight increase (0.5%) in the percentage of women directors.

Directors and Highest-Paid Executives

  • Only 9.9% of the board seats and highest-paid executive positions in the 400 largest public companies headquartered in California are held by women.
  • Only 1.5% of directors (13 of 846) and 1.2% of CEOs (1 of 85) at the 85 Fortune 1000 companies in this study are Asian, African-American or Hispanic women.

Highest-Paid Executives

  • Women account for 8.9% of the 2,005 highest-paid executives in the 400 largest public companies in California.
  • Almost two-thirds, 63.3%, of California’s companies have no women among the highest-paid executives.
  • Only 29 (7.3%) of the companies have two or more women among the highest-paid executives.
  • Only 13 (3.3%) of the 400 largest public companies in California have a woman serving as CEO.

 

 

 

Today’s 3 Things: Catholic Church Pushing Company Town for Contraception, On the List with Emily, Michelle Obama and Ellen

Facts about the Contraception Ruling
A recent ruling from the Obama Administration requires that contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration be included at no additional cost in health insurance plans — with a carve-out for religious institutions.

There’s a few things you should know about the manufactured political controversy that’s erupted.

#1 Republican candidates are claiming that the ruling will rob religious organizations of their religious freedom.  Not true. 

Churches  and other houses of worship are not required to offer contraception, but affiliated organizations like colleges and social services agencies are required….because they are not religious organizations.

The Catholic Church’s effort to restrict the contraceptive decisions of their non-church-based employees and students reminds me of the autocratic philosophy that pervaded company towns, that were not uncommon at the end of the 19th century.  In these communities, one major business controlled everything, from jobs to housing to food and entertainment.  The citizens of these controlled communities lost any ability to exercise individual choice. That’s what the Catholic Church and its conservative allies are trying to create by pushing back on the Obama ruling.

President Obama’s decision was balanced and judicious.

#2 A strong majority of the American public, including Catholics, support the President’s decision.  Check out these poll results.

#3 The Republican push back on this issue is all about attacking President Obama.  28 states already have similar provisions requiring contraception, which has never created a conservative backlash.  Many thanks to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow…I found this fact on her blog.

Ms. Maddow is also, to my knowledge, the only news anchor who has for months covered the contraception issue, including the proposal by some Republican Presidential candidates to make the availability of contraception a state’s rights issue.  Since when is my reproductive freedom a state right and not a personal liberty?

Here’s my take-away:  If affiliated organizations have the ability to deny contraception to their employees or students, then those organizations are enforcing religious doctrine and thus denying religious freedom.

EMILY’s List Supports California Candidates
Former California Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, running for California’s 52nd Congressional seat, received good news yesterday.  EMILY’s List, the highly respected national women’s organization that raises campaign funds for Democratic, pro-choice women candidates, placed Saldaña “On the List,” which gives her national exposure to raise funds from EMILY’s network of over one million.

Former California state Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny, running for CD 51, and current state Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod, running in the newly created CD 35, are also On the List.  Incumbent U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Lois Capps (CD 24) are recommended by EMILY’s List.

Click here to see California candidates supported since EMILY’s List was founded in 1985.
Nationally, EMILY’s List has helped elect 16 pro-choice Democratic women to the U.S. Senate, 87 to the U.S. House, nine governors, and hundreds of women to state legislatures, constitutional offices, and key local offices.

Let’s end on a light note:
No Girl Push-Ups for These First Ladies
It’s impossible to know who is more adorable — First Lady Michelle Obama or America’s first lady of funny, Ellen DeGeneres.

See why my goal is to do 25 push-ups by the November election….

My favorite line from the video:  “I think we should do it together.”

Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTAIedFfUBU&feature=youtu.be

 

 

Today’s 3 Things: Political Parity, Douthat’s Delusion, and African American Women’s Priorities and Concerns

Political Parity
Check out Political Parity, a newly formed coalition of political leaders launched to double the number of women in political office by 2020.  A bi-partisan effort, the group is chaired by former US Ambassador Swanee Hunt and co-chaired by former Lt. Governor of Massachusetts Kerry Healey.

The group will be guided by an impressive roster of leaders and advisors, including Mary Hughes who runs the 2012 Project, aimed at increasing women candidates this campaign cycle, and Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), based at Rutgers University.

Back Story on Komen
New York TImes columnist Ross Douthat doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to the breast cancer prevention movement.  In an op-ed on Sunday (where the overall point of his column was to take the media to task for “siding with Planned Parenthood and ignoring half of America”), he makes this un-researched claim:

. . . the fight against breast cancer is unifying and completely uncontroversial. . . .

Anyone familiar with the breast cancer prevention movement — or who bothered to do a Google search — knows that there are deep fissures in the community.

The back story is that the Komen Foundation is a white-glove advocacy outfit, tepid in its pursuit of environmental contributors to breast cancer, and closely tied to its corporate contributors.

At the other side of the spectrum is the feisty and effective Breast Cancer Action, founders of the Think Before you Pink campaign committed to raising questions about “pink ribbon marketing, the conflicts of interest in the cancer industry, and why so many women are still being diagnosed.”

African-American Women: Priorities & Concerns
The Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation teamed up to conduct a fascinating national survey focusing on “Black Women in America” — which hasn’t received enough attention.  Click here for the January 23 article in the Washington Post, and here for the poll results on priorities and concerns and impressions of First Lady Michelle Obama. Pay particular attention to what people worry about and their different perceptions about the impacts of racism and sexism in their lives.  Also, huge majorities of both African American and white women believe the First Lady is both a good mom and a good role model.

Women & Families Hurt by Recession and Budget Cuts

Here’s a link to an opinion piece, Women, families hurt most by recession, budget cuts, I wrote for HealthyCal.org.

The article covers a game-changing study released by the California Budget Project and the Women’s Foundation of California.  Here a link to Falling Behind: The Impact of the Great Recession and the Budget Crisis on California’s Women and their Families.