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Bernita Bradley's picture


Sheena Harris, mother of three leaves her home at 5am to arrive at work by 7 am. She only works approximately 30 minutes from her home.
She takes her 5th and 3rd grader to a family member's home along with her 2 yr old. The drive is 30 minute in the opposite direction from work. Her drive time from there increases with morning traffic.  

Only three months into the new year and Sheena has used all her sick and paid time on days the family member could not keep them or due to late days.
She calls programs weekly to check up on available seats in her area for her pre-k student. Few seats are available that would cut down her drive time yet still open early enough. The biggest issue is that due to her work schedule, prices increase. Latchkey for the two oldest students including transportation to school would make working full time not worth it.
Lets get questions out the way before we go any further:
1: Why doesn't the dad help? They divorced two years ago and he is self proclaimed unemployed. And yes child support is scheduled once he "finds a job"

2: If he doesn't work why can't he keep them? Unfortunately Sheena is faced with the same issues thousands of single parents face when the other parent has chosen to be non supportive.

3: Can she switch shifts? She can switch shifts but alternate shifts require even more money. If she found an after hours center her payments would most likely triple, all 3 kids would have to be there full time. Also She took this shift last year at a new job paying more and closer to home. Her old job was in Toledo and she only saw the children to give them baths, put them to sleep and on the weekends. That was if she was not on mandatory overtime.

4. Does she pay the family member for keeping the children? Yes and faithfully

5.State Assistance? She does not qualify

Sheena thought about quitting and enrolling in school but fears she may have to move in with family. If she did quit, the state would penalize her and the little assistance she would get still would not help. Now anxious to find a PreK-8 school close to home with latch key for the 2017-18 school year. She is hoping that her current situation does not get more hectic.

I have asked her to consider all options and make a wise choice as soon as possible. Seats like this fill very quick. She is checking near her job and near other family members homes. The main issue is still the money.

This is an issue so many Detroit families face. Which is one reason Hope Starts Here Outreach Team is determined to hear from families about the challenges they face.
Since November 2016 HSH has surveyed, interviewed and invited parents to be apart of the on going cohesive strategy to make quality early childhood education
affordable and accessible for all.

Stories like Sheena's  give us hope. Hope that things will change in favor of all families in our communities. Hope that things must change. And Hope that everyone will join together to make this change happen Now. Because Hope Starts with stories like Sheena Harris.
We will keep in touch with her and make sure she finds the best opportunities available for her most prized possessions.

We Hope for better out comes for them in the very near future.

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