Lack of transportation. Lack of education. Lack of affordable child care help and elder care help.
By DIANE STAFFORD
The Kansas City Star
These and other barriers to good employment contribute to high levels of poverty for women in the Kansas City area.
Researchers affiliated with the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City have spent hundreds of hours poring over 2010 census data, holding focus groups and talking to community leaders to produce three reports that delineate those economic ills and suggest remedies.
Last fall, the organization released two reports, “Her Reality” and “Her Voice,” which conveyed statistics and emotion. This week, the third and final report, “Her Future,” calls for specific actions to improve the financial status of women.
The need is great. Of the 45,000 poverty-level households in the Kansas City area, half are headed by women with children in the home.
“These women — most of whom have little or no schooling — and their dependent children live on a median income of $21,516,” the report said. “To survive is to work.”
Yet weekly child care rates in the metro area range from $110 to $193. Add in transportation costs, or lack of access to available jobs, and the employment problem becomes nearly insurmountable.
To that end, the Women’s Foundation is committed to working with nonprofit organizations, foundations, employers and educators to talk about the barriers and suggest specific actions.
For example, said Kristin Wing, a foundation member, “we’re talking to businesses about helping their low-wage employees get a better grip on financial literacy. Maybe we can put together a tool kit to help. Our advocacy committee is reaching out to human resource officials and CEOs.”
Another discussion with businesses, Wing said, will be about transportation solutions, particularly since public bus service in the metro area often doesn’t reach available jobs.
“Maybe more businesses can provide transportation vouchers or run a van to get employees to work,” she said.
The report divides recommendations into five areas: basic survival, financial literacy, career development, support for working women, and targeted help for immigrants and refugees.
It offers suggestions for actions that can be taken by individuals, businesses, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, elected officials, and funders or donors.
One example, in the area of career development, encourages one-on-one mentoring of low-wage women workers, both by individual volunteers and by businesses with formal programs.
All three reports are on the Women’s Foundation website at www.wfgkc.org.
To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.