1. Caregivers for elders and people living with disabilities need support with emergency care, respite care and transportation.
  2. There are not enough options and resources, such as housing, transportation, services, prescriptions and non-medical supplies for elders and people living with disabilities.
  3. Zoning restricts the number of non-related people living together, limiting opportunities for elders and people with disabilities to have non-related caregivers live with them. Zoning also limits the creation of Personal Care Homes.
  4. The availability of quality child care is lacking for parents living at or near poverty in Athens.
    • The average cost for licensed early care and learning centers in Athens for an infant is $118 per week or approximately $5,900 per year.
    • Young children who are in families challenged by teen parenthood, domestic violence, mental illness, substance abuse, poverty or parent's history of childhood maltreatment need resources and support to address these challenges.
    • 41% of parents who called Child Care Resource and Referral reported that they could not find child care that met their needs. In March, the waiting list for Pre-K was 198 (520 children enrolled); for Even Start 75 (163 children enrolled); and for Early Head Start 154 (80 children enrolled).
    • Parents of children with disabilities have few choices and limited access to after-school activities, summer camps or enrichment programs for their children.

Recurring Themes and Challenges

  1. The notion that there exists a welfare system that "pays people not to work" is a myth. Welfare reform has required that low income families with dependent children must be transitioning to employment in order to receive benefits.
    • The total number of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families cases in Clarke County has decreased by 40% over the past two years.
  2. High levels of poverty are a burden to those who live in poverty and work to undermine the economy of the entire community.
  3. Our institutions and systems have failed to develop collaborative strategies that adequately address the challenges of poverty.
    • There is a culture of poverty in Athens that passes from generation to generation.
    • There is little innovation in developing new programs, opportunities and collaborations to break the cycle of poverty.
  4. A good education is one of the major factors in helping to overcome poverty.
    • An incomplete education -- lack of high school diploma, GED, literacy in English, workforce skills, etc. -- is a serious challenge to decreasing poverty in Athens.
    • Persons who drop out of school have few job options in Athens-Clarke County.
  5. Athens has an unskilled workforce that is a barrier to economic development.
  6. There is a lack of effective coordination and collaboration among faith-based organizations, non-profits, schools, universities and government agencies.
    • There are serious problems getting information to the public about existing assistance programs.
    • There is a lack of specialized support for immigrant populations.
    • There are gaps in services.
  7. Effective strategies to address racism and class issues are lacking.
    • In Athens-Clarke County the consequences of poverty fall mostly on African Americans and, increasingly, on our growing Latino population.
    • There is a hesitancy, by all races, to have honest dialogue about the impact of race and class as they relate to poverty.
  8. There are disincentives built into various systems that make it difficult to break the poverty cycle.