Over the weekend, strangers mobilized to help an Ariz. mom facing child abuse charges after leaving her 2-year-old and 6-month-old sons in a parked car while she went for a job interview. An online fundraiser begun for Shanesha Taylor's $9,000 bail blew through that goal. More than $60,000 has been donated so far. And the #ISupportShanesha hashtag on Twitter is on fire. It's a running commentary that Taylor is not alone and that indeed, her impossible choice between work and childcare is not unique. Millions of women and their children (and dads and grandmothers, too) can relate. So what about them?
The danger of charity is the same thing that provokes it: an individual story so affecting that it moves people to act. It's easy to relate and react to a single human being. It's difficult to nurture a sustained response to the millions of Shanesha Taylors living both below and scraping by above the federal poverty line (currently, $20,000-a-year for a family of three). But if social justice is the goal, then attention must be paid to everyone else and the social safety net, too.
Over at ThinkProgress Annie-Rose Strasser looks at state cuts to subsidized childcare--about 40 percent--over the past four years in Ariz. And Taylor came to mind in a brief post last Friday about a little known but apparently successful federal housing program that, while available nationwide, is poorly funded. In Houston for example, federal funds allow 540 of 18,000 eligible households ( or .03 percent) to participate in its Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, which helps to transition families off welfare.
Issues like housing and childcare aren't as media friendly as abortion or images of a woman "leaning in" in a power suit. But they are critical this election year for most of America's working moms and their families.
Expect more of Shanesha Taylor's personal story to unfold as the week gets underway.