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Alarming Increase in Greene County Single Mothers in Poverty

Many are familiar in the effects the economic downturn has had on this country, but often times there are some demographics that go forgotten during this times of hardship.  The U.S. Census Bureau recently released a study that shows how difficult these times have been for single mothers in our area.  KSMU’s Justin Lux has the details.

Being a single mother is a tough job. Being a single mother without a high school or college diploma is financially crippling.

Alissa Jecklin is a program coordinator at Missouri’s Mentoring Partnership and works specifically with young mothers.

“Being a single mom, a lot of the times they just haven’t had the opportunity to finish their education yet, they aren’t really able to get a job that is going to support very well themselves and their child,” Jecklin explains.

The U.S. Census Bureau found that last year, just over 50% of single mothers in Greene County with children younger than 18 were living below the federal poverty line. That number comes with an 8.7% margin of error.  And that figure is nearly double what it was in 2006.  Greene County’s figures is also well above the national average of 39.6%.

Community Partnership of the Ozarks executive director Melissa Haddow points out that due to the economy, even single mothers with degrees aren’t guaranteed financial security.

“The economy isn’t in a good place and it hasn’t been in a good place for several years. And it makes some degree of sense to me that we have individuals with even advanced degrees that just need a job,” says Haddow.

Both Jecklin and Haddow often see that many of these mothers’ children have fathers who are unable or unwilling to pay child support. 

Haddow says it’s frightening to think what may come next for these women and their children.

“If you’re living at the poverty level, ya’ know, you’re only a step away from dropping off that cliff into where you do not have a place to spend the night,” she says.

With winter approaching, Community Partnership is meeting this week with churches and other homeless shelters to discuss a plan of action on housing women and children and will also be accepting winter coats, hats and gloves.

For KSMU News, I’m Justin Lux.