Call it what you will, but it means jobs lost. Eliminated. Cut.
Incomes diminished, destroyed,
Homes lost, combined, foreclosed.
If the economy begins a recovery, even at the rate of generating 200,00 jobs a month, it will still take more than three years to return to where we were just one year ago (source: Time).
If families with little or no income become the norm rather than the exception — imagine the possibilities.
One symptom of poverty is lack of telephone service. Families turn to prepaid phones, turn them on only when needed, and neglect to give the new phone number to the school. You can guess the next piece: teachers and principals try to contact the family and reach only disconnected phone numbers. Student is sick: no luck. Student is in trouble and needs support from family: no luck. Student is suspended and needs to be removed from school: well, that happens, too. If more and more families have trouble paying for phones, landline or cell, what happens to the children then?
Another symptom of poverty is hunger. If widespread unemployment is the new normal, then the number of families needing free breakfast and lunch will increase. Who will fund this increase? The money has to come from somewhere.
I haven’t even mentioned shelter. Families double up, moving often, when they have no money. Kids lose sense of stability; not knowing where they’ll be after school, much less the weekend. We make referrals to agencies that can help, but even those agencies have limited funds.
Then there’s the instability that affects behavior. The child who feels angry at the world may lash out at the kid in the next seat on the school bus. The angry child gets disciplined, perhaps suspended from the bus. How does that child get to school now? Parents may or may not own a vehicle. If they do, it is not likely to be maintained well. Without money, what happens?
Is this the new normal? Joblessness, homelessness, hunger? If so, what’s next?