Jacalyn Shirley, with two of her three kids, had to adjust her work schedule to care for her children.
Single mom Jacalyn Shirley feels like she is constantly treading water.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit in the spring, the 36-year-old was suddenly faced with three children at home and virtual schooling. Then in May, she lost her job at a finance company.
To make matters worse, when she was offered a job at a bank in June, she had to turn it down due to lack of childcare. Divorced from her children’s father, she has custody of the kids (ages 4, 6, and 14) 75% of the time. When the extra $600 in federal employment benefits ran out, things got really tough.
“It was immediately dire,” said Shirley, who lives in Ocean Beach, California.
I’m burnt out in a way I’ve never experienced before.
She was bringing in less than her rent. With no emergency savings, she had to immediately cut costs and find help. She dumped her COBRA coverage and got Medi-Cal, low-cost, income-based insurance coverage through the state. Shirley also qualified for food assistance through CalFresh.
“Each month, I’m able to get the bills paid one way or another,” she said.
Her experience isn’t unique, as 23%, of U.S. children under the age of 18 live with one parent and no other adults, according to Pew Research Center.
Meanwhile, studies show that women have been hit disproportionately during the crisis. Of the more than 1 million workers over the age of 20 who left the workforce in September, 865,000 of them were women, according to the National Women’s Law Center. While jobs are being added back, women are still behind in those gains, the organization found. There were still more than 2 million fewer women in the labor force in October than were in February.
“A lot of women are feeling backed into a corner and really struggling both financially with what the virus is doing but also personally,” said certified financial planner Stacy Francis, president and CEO of New-York based Francis Financial, which is dedicated to serving women.
“This is hard for all of us but for single parents in particular, it’s really devastating.”
Shirley decided to take matters into her own hands and start her own business, a mortgage brokerage company called Harbor Funding.
It gives her the flexibility since school is back in session, but not necessarily in person, this fall. Her 4-year-old is back in pre-school and her special-needs 14-year old recently started in-person learning two days a week.
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