CSMonitor.com Article: Educate both parents and their children

CSMonitor.com Article: Educate both parents and their children

By Courtney E. Martin

The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com

posted January 26, 2012 at 10:44 am EST

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The Jeremiah Program, a nonprofit organization that receives a combination of foundation, corporate, and private funding, first started in Minneapolis in 1998 with a mission of eradicating poverty. After much deliberation, the program adopted a model to serve single mothers. They are given free housing. (Women pay 30 percent of their income for rent, which averages $135 per month). And they get life skills and job training while their children are given early education opportunities – all over a two- to three-year period.

The success is startling. Women apply and enter the program earning an average of $8.39 an hour and leave with career-track employment, earning an average livable wage of $15-16 an hour. Ninety percent of program graduates maintain consistent employment, and 55 percent go on to obtain a four-year degree. Ninety-five percent of alumnae mothers report that their children are performing at or above grade level. Jeremiah Program’s goal is to have a presence in 12 cities by 2020.

How expensive is it to get these kinds of results? Jeremiah Program’s cost per family is approximately $25,000 annually. That may sound like a lot, until one considers the alternatives. This same population – without a comprehensive, two-generation approach – is typically served piecemeal and at considerable cost to the public.

A poor, single mother and her child are often likely to utilize, for example, out-of-home placement (foster care, temporary guardianships) and chemical dependency treatment. They are also often likely to have encounters with the criminal justice system, require emergency room service, and need ongoing welfare support. In addition to being punitive and largely unsuccessful in breaking cycles of poverty, this kind of scatter shot government intervention is estimated to cost as much as $98,000 per family annually. That means that taxpayers save $6 for every one invested in Jeremiah families.”