Providing the tools to break the cycle


There is real potential and promise to be found in a backpack stuffed with school supplies.

It’s no secret that many parents cope with financial struggles every day. For them, providing school supplies for their child can put a strain on already too-tight budgets.

Just a few days ago a middle-class mother of two shared with us her fears of not being able to purchase school supplies for her two elementary-aged sons. She and her husband both work, but they can’t get ahead. They admit that, like many, they got caught living beyond their means and haven’t been able to stabilize their situation, even with three jobs between the two of them.

Parents were notified last week that the Archuleta County Department of Human Services (DHS) will be lessening their financial burden by providing school supplies for all kindergarten through eighth-grade students for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year.

Parents will only need to supply a backpack for their child.

Excerpts from last week’s article follow:

“This is a continuation of human services’ mission to promote self-sufficiency in our community by helping children succeed in school, which will prepare them for self-sufficiency and job readiness, (Pagosa Springs Elementary School Principal Kate) Lister informed.”

“… research shows that children who succeed in school have higher self-esteem and are more likely to succeed in employment settings.

“The funding for the school supplies is coming out of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) allocations, stated Matt Dodson, director of DHS.

“Historically, not all of the TANF funding was being used, Dodson explained. Since supporting students’ academic success is important to DHS, the department looked into ways to use the TANF funding to help bolster education efforts.”

“Dodson stated that the county chose to ‘throw a wide net,’ to serve as many kids as possible, and that by easing the financial burden on parents, the TANF funding will be used to serve ‘the community in the best way possible.’

“Ensuring that students in kindergarten through eighth-grade have the proper supplies can help students focus solely on their education, thereby helping prepare students to enter the workforce and discouraging against promiscuous behavior.”

Some might argue that the funds being provided by DHS to purchase school supplies would be better invested in teaching parents to budget and make proper choices. We don’t disagree. In fact, DHS does work with clients to help them with budgeting through the Circles and Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood programs.

While those programs are making a difference, sometimes breaking the cycle requires a better education earlier in life.

We believe that it is important for children to stay in school. By providing the basic supplies, we can help ensure their success in school and provide that better education. Having the appropriate tools can also reduce stress and build self-esteem.

We applaud DHS for providing the tools our students need to break the cycle.

Terri Lynn Oldham House