Governments have enacted different support programs for low-income families, single mothers, senior citizens, physically disabled people, and children to help them get through the lack of living wages and the lack of access to health care and educational opportunities. Extensive research already showed that these programs helped people lift themselves from poverty so that the next generation will not need to rely on food stamps, cash aid, and government-supplemented health care insurance.
But the national government cannot do all these things alone. For the programs to be effective, the community has to do its part. What community programs are impactful on the lives of low-income families, especially the youth?
Pro-bono lawyers are at the forefront of delivering social services to low-income families. Many of these families fall victim to unfair labor practices, medical malpractices, and many more. Many of them cannot afford to hire a personal injury lawyer even when their employers are responsible for an accident that rendered them incapable of earning a living. They become reliant on federal cash assistance because they can no longer be employed as skilled workers.
Since low-income families are mostly dependent on manual labor, many of them are susceptible to unsafe and unsanitary work practices. The problem is that they do not understand the law enough to know what they can demand from their employers. This is why free legal assistance is needed in low-income communities.
The pandemic isn’t the only reason to improve the health care services for underprivileged, less fortunate, and lower-income communities. Access to quality health care is not only a problem in underdeveloped countries; it is a problem, too, in first-world countries such as the United States. This is why different administrations have been trying to make health care more affordable to millions of uninsured people all over the world.
In the United States, the Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) gave children opportunities to be insured. This came after studies showed how children are less likely to be covered by a health care policy. This appears to be one of the most common reasons low-income families have difficulty providing for their children’s health.
Access to education, especially at the higher level, has always been a massive blow to families who cannot even afford to send their kids to high school. Communities have a big role to play in the lives of out-of-school youth. Aside from educating their parents about the importance of prioritizing education, communities can also encourage volunteers to provide tutorial services for the less fortunate.
They can link up volunteers and out-of-school youth who are willing to educate themselves in the hopes of qualifying for a scholarship. Communities can also sponsor academic-based programs to enhance technical skills. These will give them the knowledge that can be beneficial when they want to join the workforce.
Communities can build food banks that will provide healthy and nutritious meals to the youth. Most parents of low-income families are busy working two to three jobs a day. They do not have time to prepare healthy and nutritious meals for their children. Fast food became staples in these households. But studies already deduced that preservatives found in canned goods, ready-to-eat meals, and fast food have adverse effects on children’s development.
Low-income families stand to gain from community programs that make healthy and nutritious meals accessible. Food banks and soup kitchens are just some examples. In other communities, families can even foster children from low-income families so that they can get the right number of meals a day.
Another problem for families whose parents have to work two or more jobs in a day is child care. They can’t afford to hire a babysitter or to leave their kids to a daycare center. The only solution is for their employers to allow them to bring their children to work. However, many of the work they are involved in are blue-collar jobs. These are not safe environments to bring their kids.
That’s when communities become critical. They can help these families through child care and playdates. Special foster programs such as these have positively impacted families and communities. This is something that governments can consider institutionalizing.
Who you are right now is a product of the community where you are born into. You spent years in that community; it has influenced you in ways you never realized. That proves that communities can change the trajectory of a person’s life; that if they want to, they have the power to extend a helping hand, change a family’s life forever, and improve the next generations that come after it.