It’s that time of year again, the time that parents love and children hate. It’s time to go back to school, and, time to go back-to-school shopping.
During the summer, parents are given a mile-long list of supplies children need to bring to school at the start of the school year. The list includes everything from pencils and crayons to tissues and disinfectant wipes. As children get older, the items get more expensive (think graphing calculator for more than $100). Parents are expected to provide everything on the list but in many cases, teachers spend their own money to fill in the gaps, just to ensure students have what they need to be successful.
According to the National Retail Federation, the amount a family with children in kindergarten through 12th grade will spend on school supplies in 2015 is $630.36. While some families manage this expense without batting an eye, others are barely able to purchase a new backpack. Some families may decide to purchase the school supplies, and forgo paying the electric bill next month just so their children can fully participate in school activities.
Thousands of families in our state make choices like this each day. They live above the poverty line but below the basic cost-of-living threshold and can’t afford the basic necessities such as housing, food, healthcare, childcare, and transportation, much less school supplies. These are called ALICE households: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. Thirty-five percent of households in our region are ALICE households and include the child your son or daughter sits next to on the school bus, eats lunch with in the cafeteria, and plays with on the playground.
On August 12, 2015, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut will welcome Erica Hill of the Weekend TODAY Show for a special MetroHartford Alliance Rising Star Breakfast
. Erica Hill will lead guests through Making Choices, a United Way activity where you make tough choices such as putting food on the table, or purchasing a new backpack.
At the Breakfast, you will also hear the story of one local executive who grew up in an ALICE household. Who is that exec, and why is he sharing his story now? You’ll have to join us to find out. Libby Richardson is the senior manager of marketing communications at United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut.