Middletown, Conn., received a three-year, $450,000 grant to implement the Middletown Works initiative, which brings together a dozen organizations from across the city to increase the earning power of single-parent households.
Middletown Works will develop a system to identify employment opportunities for single parents and provide them with the training and resources to obtain a living wage and do career-sustaining work. It will create a Middletown Works Committee to work with the City of Middletown’s Citizens Advisory Council to coordinate resources and expand existing training and apprenticeship opportunities.
The City of Middletown is resource-rich, but lacks systems that can distribute those resources among all of its citizens. Research shows that many of the city’s single parents, particularly those of color, are at a disadvantage and struggle to qualify for living-wage employment. Childcare needs further restrict employment choices, as do social networks with limited access to employment opportunities beyond minimum-wage jobs with high turnover rates.
Forty-three percent of Middletown families are single parent families, and 35 percent of those families are living at or below the federal poverty level. Single parents report that they feel trapped in a succession of minimum-wage jobs that offer no hope for a better future for themselves or their children. Local employers have become used to the constant “churn” of minimum-wage workers, who cost time and money to replace. Yet, little effort is put toward addressing this problem.
Middletown Works has devised a range of strategies to reach its 10-year goal, each of which will have a significant positive short-term impact. They include:
- Engaging Middletown’s single-parent families living at or below the federal poverty level
- Identifying/Creating vocational pathways, particularly for women of color, in key fields where there is an identified need and demonstrated potential for growth. Examples include healthcare, manufacturing, logistics, and construction.
- Influencing the block grant-funding allocation process by establishing a Middletown Works“At Large” seat on the Citizens Advisory Council to represent the voice of single parent families living in poverty
- Linking existing employment services in Middletown by establishing a hub of resources and information with multiple points of community access
- Raising employer awareness about the needs and strengths of single-parent employees through outreach and engagement efforts to the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce and local businesses
To increase prosperity and reduce poverty for Middletown single-parent families living at or below the federal poverty level from 35 percent to 20 percent over a 10-year period.
- Single parents
- The Connection Inc.
- Middlesex United Way
- Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology
- Wesleyan University
- Middlesex Chamber of Commerce
- Liberty Bank
- City of Middletown/Economic Development
- Workforce Investment Board
- ACES Early Head Start