Link : One Family’s Story Shows How The Cycle Of Poverty Is Hard To Break : NPR.
Well,goodness. I always stress than while personal narratives can share common threads, there are many ways poverty can look but I connect with this personally. Metcalf lives about 2 counties away from where I do. It’s hard to even get dental coverage through medicaid here if you’re an adult and very few dentists will even accept it. The one closest to me is a horror show. And by closest, I have the same issue as Metcalf …transportation. Right where I live, we have a great public bus system but traveling outside of the area isn’t easy.
We are also in that dangerous space where if I were to just get a part time job, we would lose assistance but any income I make wouldn’t be enough to offset the lost assistance PLUS cover the cost of childcare. Hell, a part time job probably wouldn’t even cover the cost of childcare here. The daycare subsidy waiting list is long, so that isn’t a huge help.
Metcalf faces another situation common among low-income workers. She knows if she starts making money, other benefits — like food stamps — will be cut or eliminated.
“I guess to me the system seems backward. I mean, they should be more for helping you, not kind of setting you up to fail, so to speak,” Metcalf says.Just recently, the family’s food stamp benefit dropped from $700 a month to $200 because her daughter started to receive $744 a month from Social Security to treat her emotional issues and her husband began working part time at McDonald’s. Of course, now he’s gone.
And there’s one more thing. Although Metcalf is only 24, she’s missing most of her top front teeth. She says it’s from hereditary gum disease. Medicaid paid $3,000 for a partial bridge, but now she can’t use it because her other teeth are crumbling.
Rezelman points out that Metcalf could get more dental work, but there are no providers who accept Medicaid in the Bath area. Metcalf would have to go to Rochester to have the work done, but again, she has no transportation.
“It’s distressing because you have to be so motivated and capable to navigate those systems and come out ahead,” Rezelman says.
It’s a complaint you hear again and again, not just from those who get government aid, but sometimes from providers.
Kathryn Muller is the commissioner of social services for Steuben County, where Metcalf lives. Muller says her office provides an array of services to help the county’s struggling families.
“Really, it’s sometimes hand-holding. It’s working with employers and putting case managers with individuals who are starting employment and helping them,” she says.
But she says sometimes their hands are tied by state and federal laws. For example, welfare recipients can meet their work requirements by going to school, but only for a year.
“One year is great. It’s better than what used to be, but you can’t get an associate’s degree in one year,” says Muller.
Even though, she notes, one of the main reasons people can’t get work is a lack of education.
Muller says some of the limits on government aid are there to prevent people from abusing the system, but she thinks there’s also a misperception about the poor.
“It’s not a chosen lifestyle. Certainly there is abuse out there. There’s abuse no matter what it is. But it’s not a chosen lifestyle,” she says.
Metcalf could not agree more. She just wishes it wasn’t such a struggle getting help. Still, she hopes someday to get back to college.
“I haven’t given up my dream yet. I just keep putting it on the back burner until it ain’t raining so hard, I guess,” she says.