From Project Director, Elaine Toohey:
The goal of the Working Communities Challenge Core Team is to work towards increasing economic mobility and overall well-being for Greater Barre Area head-of-household women experiencing financial instability, through the coordinated support of their employers.
The Working Communities Challenge gathers partners from area organizations together and coordinates ways to create better financial, economic, and social opportunities for single, head-of-household women in the Greater Barre area. Hopefully, by 2030, the number of these women who currently face economic instability, will decrease by at least 15 percent from their 2020 counterparts.
In 2018, 55.3% of those living in poverty in the Greater Barre Area in 2018 were head-of-household, single mothers. This was prior to the pandemic, which disproportionately affected women and this number is most likely much higher now.
The Working Communities Challenge Greater Barre Area Core Team includes;
- Green Mountain United Way (Lead Agency)
- Barre Mayor’s Office
- Capstone Community Action
- Family Center of Washington County
- Central Vermont Home, Health and Hospice
- Central Vermont Medical Center
- Central Vermont Economic Development Corporation
- Barre Partnership
- Barre Area Development, Inc.
- Community College of Vermont
- Central Vermont Adult Basic Education
- Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission
- Vermont Agency of Transportation
- Vermont Food Bank
The core team, which includes representatives from each of the above organizations, has prioritized the following the Benefits Cliff and Child care among the issues facing these women in the Barre area.
Strengthening an employer collaborative with employers developing a shared understanding and culture around workforce supports was also identified as a top priority. Out of these employer collaborations come employer workforce innovations and sharing of employer best practices and strategies.
Endorsing the platform of the Let’s Grow Kids 2022 campaign of advocacy and legislative action is priority three. Let’s Grow Kids seeks to improve universal pre-kindergarten childcare, expand the childcare financial assistance program, support and expand the childcare workforce, build childcare capacity and expand existing childcare, support employers to be part of the solutions, and to highlight connections between early education and improved outcomes.