New Initiative to Give Unemployed Parents a Hand

Jan 31, 2014

Parent Shayna Scott on Friday described challenges during her job search.
Credit Skyler Magnoli

A new initiative, called the Work Path Fund, was launched in Connecticut to help working parents afford the costs of getting into employment. 

The search for a job is tough for everyone these days, but particularly for those parents in low-income homes who must juggle the problems of child care, lack of support, and tight resources. 

Chandler Howard, left, with Governor Dannel Malloy.
Credit Skyler Magnoli

Chandler Howard, CEO of Liberty Bank, said, "Imagine how it would feel to be in that position, and then have an opportunity to gain employment, only to find that there is a barrier in the way." Liberty Bank is one of the principal sponsors behind the Work Path Fund.

"[It's] something that you must have in order to go to work," Howard said, "but you can't afford [it] because months of unemployment have exhausted all of your resources. It could be something like a license, or a uniform or a car repair."

Work Path Fund provided a one-time grant for car repair, and bought the uniform Shayna Scott needed for her first job.

That's where the Work Path Fund is designed to step in. It can help with those very real costs that working parents face in getting or keeping a job.

Parent Shayna Scott said, "I had a dream from when I was a kid of being a registered nurse, but how I was going to get there, I did not know." With a lot of determination, she managed to gain the qualifications. "When I graduated school," she said, "everything tumbled. My car broke, and I had an interview the same week, and I'm like, how am I going to get to this interview? And if I get offered a position, how am I going to get there?"

Work Path Fund helped Scott by providing a one-time grant for car repair, and buying the uniform she needed to begin her first job as a registered nurse.

Elaine Zimmerman of the Connecticut Commission on Children said that in the last decade, the number of children in the state living below the poverty line has gone up. She said that for those kids, a parent without a job means dislocation and uncertainty. "Last year alone," she said, "one-fifth of our low-income children moved from one location to another because they lost their housing."

The fund is a public-private partnership that will be administered through the state's CT Works Career Centers. It's so far raised more than $100,000 to help parents like Scott keep contributing to the workforce while also supporting their kids.