Education vs. Welfare – Please Set Your Priorities on Stun

Last week the rate of Homeless Welfare parents who sat at my desk without earning a GED or High School Diploma was 80%. The number was easy to calculate: I only saw 20 clients and 16 of them came to CalWORKS without a High school Education. Of the 4 who had a GED/HS Diploma – one earned it while my client.

I come from a family of teachers, my Aunt Joan is in the  Arcadia High’s Special Ed dept, Mom was an elementary school teacher (that’s how we met) and Dad did Post Grad teaching at Texas A&M.  CalWORKs /Welfare’s GAIN program is all about paths to becoming self-sufficiet. For the most part we have a “GAIN Flow” and a standard path to employment and leaving Welfare. But, if your file comes to me – I will make a point of pushing you to get your diploma or GED.

You can do it, you will do it – and it may be the first and only time in your life where you are expected to go to school and succeed – but you are failing yourself and your family if you don’t try. Stun everyone and be successful!

I am biased on the subject. When my daughter was born I was a Welfare mom with only a partial college education. I worked and went to school at the same time. I completed my 2 year degree at Citrus College while I was working on my 4 year degree at The University of La Verne. All the while I worked part time for the City of Monrovia, as an IHSS caregiver and at The Avenue Clothing Stores.

Seriously, on CalWORKS you have 5 years of guaranteed income assistance, payment for food and comprehensive health insurance. This is more time than you had for high school in the first place, and enough time to complete a four-year college degree. GAIN pays for books, paper, pens, transportation, and childcare. What else do you need?  There is no reason you can not go to school part-time while working part-time to pay your living expenses. BE THE WORKING STUDENT POOR – not just someone who is poor.

Yesterday I saw someone else’s client who explained that she would not work outside her English as a Second Language and GED classes because her children need her to be home. As she said this, she was asking me to tell her how to get money to keep her lights and water on in her home. ESL and GED are a “Go at your own rate” program where she is attending school. There was no reason she could not carve out 3-4 hours a morning or afternoon to work a minimum wage job and earn her GED.

Or, live with family and friends and don’t work. Dedicate yourself solely to your education as this woman is doing  – but don’t put your children at risk of homelessness in order to earn your education. Government entitlement programs can help pay for your life and your school – but you still have to be a responsible adult and budget the funds you have.  I have taken in room mates. I have ridden the bus to school instead of driving, I have used the after school care to give me more time to study (or work).

With a GED/ HS Diploma you earn more money, can move on to better jobs and higher education. Why wouldn’t you do this for yourself. Better yet – stay in school and earn it with the rest of your friends when you are a teen.

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