Recent reports indicate that National Poverty Rates are the highest they have been for 52 years and the median income of Wash. state residents is at a level equal to that of 20 years ago.
We are reportedly on the brink of another recession before complete recovery of the recession reportedly ending in 2009; since which time Washington State has experienced an 11.1 percent increase in families living in poverty - currently at 13 percent.
The economic state of our country has produced a new national demographic of “middle class poor;” an increasing number of families who have never had to ask for help – some who have no idea where to begin to get much needed support.
The Greater Lake Stevens area is not isolated from this societal ill. Unemployment rates here are .5 percent higher than the county average, over 26 percent of our children qualify for “free or reduced lunches”, and Snohomish County is in the top few counties designated with highest rates of home foreclosures in our state – reportedly 52 percent of homes for sale in our local community are bank owned.
Families are facing life-changing crisis that includes possible homelessness, illness, and long-term poverty. Many whom have never experienced the pain of scarcity are now standing alongside the thousands of others who wait in lines at food banks.
Parents are being forced to make difficult decisions of prioritization of food, health care, or rent and other monthly household stabilizing expenses.
Community-based Family Support Centers like the Lake Stevens Family Center are helping to catch those families with a safety net provided by implementation of the Healthy Families Project (HFP).
HFP is a deliberate service delivery that includes strength-based supports, access to community-based wrap-around services and resource availability necessary for healthy, stable, and sustaining households.
Extensively trained resource staff at Family Support Centers leverage resources in order to provide flexible, non-conventional, and locally delivered household stabilizing services and supports by collaborating with outside service providers to provide families facing dire circumstances with stabilizing resources to avoid homelessness and sustain their households long-term.
This community based, individualized and tailored service delivery model is preferred by many, and has proven success in stabilizing families in need when compared to reactive conventional social services that are often times deficit reduction based and provide very temporary relief for families in crisis.
Effectiveness is best exemplified in the words of a parent whose family was in crisis, facing possible homelessness, and received stabilizing services at a Snohomish County based Family Support Center*:
“What I got [at Lake Stevens Family Support Center**] was more than I could have ever asked for. After my first visit, I left with a list of resources that could help me- from energy assistance, to medical assistance to food banks. I was even sent home with some food that first visit. I contacted the numbers that were given to me and because of the Family Center I was signed up for TANF, got help with our energy bills, and even found some additional financial help offered by DSHS that helped me get our past due bills caught up to date. This help got us on the path of stability by getting things paid that were past due and to make a financial plan for our future.”
In an economy that leaves many of our neighbors, friends, and families vulnerable to drastic economic changes that threaten the safety and sustainability of a family, Family Support Centers exist to help provide health, stability and hope.
For information on *Snohomish County Family Support Centers, visit www.lcsnw.org/familysupportcenters or Lake Stevens Family Support Center, visit www.lakestevensfamilycenter.org.