I just celebrated a birthday… and as a confessed social media junkie, I received most of my birthday wishes via Facebook and Twitter. It was so wonderful to see the “Happy Birthday” posts pop up as the day progressed, a once-a-year public declaration of love and support.

This morning I was reflecting on the fact that should something tragic happen to us (my husband, daughter and I) such as a loss of employment or a major medical crisis, our friends and family would rush to our side with offers to help. We’d get job connections, money to tide us over and a place to liveOur friends would organize fundraisers to help cover major medical costs… not just because they love a party but because they’d want to help. Just knowing that level of support exists offers my family a level of security that many low-income families simply don’t experience. If the people in our life were all poor and struggling to make ends meet – what support could they offer us should we run into problems?

Strong social networks and access to supports increase stability, helping low income communities of families work their way out of poverty. A June 2012 brief by the Campaign to End Child Homelessness at the National Center on Family Homelessness describes the impact of reduced economic and social resources on poor children and their families. In addition to access to affordable housing, low-income families need jobs that pay livable wages, good medical services, reliable transportation options and services for their kids like safe childcare and afterschool programs. These social supports offer a level of security to families, offering them a chance to break the cycle of poverty. The brief, Improving Access to Mainstream Programs for Families Experiencing Homelessness, can be accessed here.

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