Worrying through the economics of parenting

For the past year or so my household has been part of a special census project. Each month we’re interviewed about something different, but always we’re asked, “Are you still employed and if so, how many hours did you work last week?” Last month’s special questions were sobering: “How much did you spend on groceries last week?” and then, “Do you feel you have enough to eat?”

Unemployment and poverty are on everyone’s mind right now. Last night my hairdresser (whose business is not off thanks to the graying of American women!) expressed what a lot of employed parents are feeling. She has two grown sons who each have families. “We’re doing fine,” she told me. “But I worry about my kids. What if we have to start supporting three families?” she wondered.

“Parenting becomes even more challenging when those economic realities are setting in,” Sue Stepleton, president of Parents as Teachers National Center told Missouri’s Senate committee last month.

Last year Idaho’s governor cut off funding to many of the state’s Parents as Teachers programs over a technicality in funding. Already this year a Parents as Teachers program in Washington has lost major funding and will run out of resources in June. In Bolivar, Mo. superintendent Dr. Steve Morgan “recommended reducing district expenses for the Parents As Teachers program, but as a caveat, added the district shouldn’t do that if the PAT program sees a cut in its state funding.”

An editorial in today’s Augusta Chronicle asks, “Have we given up on parenting? If any program deserves public funding, it’s Parents as Teachers, which teaches parents the skills they need and the responsibilities they carry to bring their children up as smart, engaged, healthy young citizens. “

How do decision-makers make those tough decisions?