U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau director visits Birmingham to discuss women in the workforce
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The U.S. Department of Labor’s Director of the Women’s Bureau was in Birmingham Wednesday joining Mayor Randall Woodfin and others to address inequities women face in the workforce.
They discussed solutions to help ease the burden of women who overwhelmingly bear the costs of child and elder care while they work and provide for their own families—and many of these women are single mothers.
A staggering statistic from the federal government shows millions of women left their jobs to care for their children during the COVID-19 pandemic when schools and day cares closed to help slow the spread of the virus.
But if you’re a single mother, leaving your job to be a full-time caregiver isn’t an option.
“The City of Birmingham has about 22,000 students, and I can tell you just from knocking on over 85,000 doors, my team and I last year in 2021, most of the doors we went to were single-family mothers,” Mayor Woodfin said.
That’s why in February, the City of Birmingham launched its Embrace Mother’s Guaranteed Income Initiative, a pilot program designed to give women-headed households a $375 a month stipend for a 12-month period.
City leaders said 8,000 completed applications poured in for just 110 spots.
Kimber Washington works two jobs and has two young children at home, and said the extra money is a Godsend.
“It has allowed me to have a little more flexibility in terms of not having to work a shift here or there. Being able to purchase gas, as I’ve stated earlier, and not having to choose between another necessity in the household may it be toiletries or having to purchase food, having the income, it has been a blessing for my household. It really has,” Washington said.
Federal leaders say programs like Embrace Mothers are available to help single mothers reduce caregiving costs but agrees finding support isn’t always easy.
“Part of the conversation unearthed today that we are doing everything we can, certainly at the Department of Labor, to make sure that workers do understand what rights they have on the job, that families who need resources now are able to avail themselves of all the resources that have come through some of the COVID relief packages, and I think that’s ongoing work,” said Women’s Bureau Director, Wendy Chun-Hoon.
The mothers who receive the guaranteed income will be paid through February 2023.
The city is collecting data from the pilot program and hopes the information can be used to start other programs like it.
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