At the age of 17 I became pregnant. I was still a child and now, not even having graduated high school, I had to plan a child’s future. A failed marriage later, and a single mother of two and a refugee of spousal abuse, I joined the military. After six years of service and an honorable discharge I found myself without a job.
I applied for unemployment and food assistance; however, when I wanted to go back to school I was told that I would not qualify for low-income childcare. Head Start told me I made too much on unemployment to receive childcare. My story is not much different than others in Washington.
Many people who live here have done so much in their life. Regardless of what the circumstances are most of them do not want handouts. Many of these folks just need a little help to get back on their feet. Mason County where I live is around 27 percent below average per capita compared to Washington state for income, and 25 percent of the annual income is less than $25,000. In 2012, Mason County had an 11 percent unemployment rate.
The people of Washington need a system that allows people to transition them from poverty to success. Too many times people lose benefits due to a slight raise in salary. The raise is just enough to push them over the limit but not enough to allow them to get off of benefits and succeed.