Moving America Forward

Here’s Why We Should Be Investing in Single Moms

February 5, 2014
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Here’s Why We Should Be Investing in Single Moms
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The Jeremiah Project's three-pronged intervention is boosting families out of poverty for good.

What happens if you give a single mom high-quality childcare, higher education and a place to live? A whole lot, actually.

The Jeremiah Program in Minneapolis has helped more than a thousand low-income single mothers and their children build better lives and break the cycle of poverty since it began in 1998. The program provides the mothers with affordable housing at its campus and free preschool for the children so their moms can pursue their education at nearby Minneapolis Community & Technical College. Ninety-five percent of the kids leave the preschool ready for kindergarten, and ninety-percent of the mothers are able to maintain steady employment after they finish the Jeremiah Program. This program works so well because it addresses the problems faced by two generations at once—low-income moms often struggle to complete their educations or hold a job while dealing with the demands of caring for young children, while their kids often receive sub-standard childcare or don’t attend preschool at all, setting back their educations before they even begin.

It costs about $25,000 to see one mom and her children through the program, but an independent analysis found a $4 return to the community for every dollar invested in these families, and a $16 million lifetime benefit for every 100 families elevated from poverty. The Jeremiah Program has expanded to Austin, Texas, Fargo, N.D., and St. Paul, Minn., while cities including Boston, Rochester, Minn. and Dayton, Ohio are working to replicate the program. Amira Masri, who participates in the Jeremiah Program with her daughter Arcadia, told Mary Stegmeir of the Des Moines Register, “My mom was a single mom, and her mom was a single mom. I feel like I’m the (one) that’s going to change our pattern … and end the cycle of poverty here, now with Arcadia.”

 

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