Circles Newaygo County facilitates dialogue
The community is invited to join the discussion about affordable childcare at Circles Newaygo County’s next Big View meeting on November 30 at 6 p.m.
Circles Newaygo County is a community-wide approach to help low-income families make the journey to middle class. The program works intensively with a small cohort of participants in a 12-week training and then matches them with community volunteers called “Allies” who provide mentoring and encouragement.
The general community is invited to get involved by participating in Big View meetings held on the fourth Thursday every other month. Big View meetings focus on barriers faced by Circles participants and other local residents and attendees discuss ways to address those barriers.
The November 30 meeting will focus on affordable childcare. Along with affordable housing and reliable transportation, access to childcare is one of the top barriers for residents looking for work as well as employers seeking to recruit and retain workers.
“With an unemployment rate under five percent, it may seem that we are doing well in Newaygo County,” said Michelle Marciniak, Circles coordinator at TrueNorth Community Services. “However, the labor force participation rate here—adults who are employed or looking for work—was only 54 percent in 2015. And nearly 41 percent of families are still struggling to make ends meet.” For a family of four with an infant and a pre-K child, childcare expenses can reach more than $1,000 a month and be the single largest item in the household budget. Childcare alone is almost equal to housing and food combined.
“People have told us that the cost of childcare makes it almost not worth working,” said Marciniak. “They struggle to find reliable, quality care that fits with their work schedule and budget. Childcare matters, and not just for those who have children. It’s important for employers and anyone who cares about a vibrant business sector.”
At the November 30 Big View meeting, Circles participants will share their experiences and the real-life barriers they have encountered. There will also be dialogue about what is available in Newaygo County and how the community can get involved in creating solutions.
The meeting will be held from 6-8 p.m. at Fremont United Methodist Church (351 Butterfield Street). A meal will be served at 6 p.m. and the program will begin around 6:30.
For more information and to RSVP, contact Michelle Marciniak at 231.924.0641 ext. 220 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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