California First Lady Maria Shriver Talks to Us About Help for Families in Tough Times
Working families all across the U.S. are feeling the tightening economy. “Day by day” is truly the only way to handle things, but did you also know that there is help? In addition to the numerous programs offered in California, the U.S. government and organizations are using WE Connect to help get Moms the information they need to take care of families. Here’s what Maria had to share with us….
What is We Connect?
"Maria Shriver’s WE Connect campaign is a pioneering public/private partnership designed to help California’s working families become more financially secure by connecting them to important programs and resources. Several of these programs, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), are available and accessible to working families but many are not taking full advantage of them. This leaves over a billion dollars on the table each year that could have been used by working families right here in California. This statewide effort will connect families with the information and tools they need to take full advantage of these valuable resources, empowering them to live their dreams."
What does this mean for California families? According the Ms. Shriver (whom we spoke with during a Mommy Blogger press call this afternoon), there’s an opportunity for more families to get the help they need. Whether they need food assistance, child care, or just want to get their taxes done well and affordably, WE Connect can lead them in the right direction. Check out their Top 10 Tips for Families (which lists the best resources available.)
What about the self-employed? I had the chance to ask Maria just that, as more and more small businesses and self-employed Moms and Dads are struggling to find information on services and tax reliefs that would normally be provided by employers. Maria shared her insight on how to take the first steps toward getting connected with valuable resources available to Californians. That step was to access the WE Connect site on your own. (She noted that even those who are traditionally-employed may not be getting much information directly from their employers.)
The WE connect website (www.WEConnect.net) is a one-stop shopping center that highlights all the programs that would be available to self-employed families (as well as traditionally-employed workers.) Heating assistance, Golden State Advantage Cards, Lifeline Telephone Service, and 529 plans (plus many more programs) are all explained in detail at the site, and there will soon be an option to apply for services directly online.
Women and children make up over half of the nation’s poor, and Ms. Shriver wants them to know that there are ways to get the help they need. “There’s no shame in asking,” she notes -- Especially if it “can make a difference in a child’s life.”
Working Californians are encouraged to visit the WEConnect website to find out more about the services offered.
Those outside of California can access their state and local social services by accessing the listing of state websites. Federal poverty guidelines are available to the public (with variances for Alaska and Hawaii), and you can learn if you are eligible for benefits before you apply by using this handy Federal Benefits Calculator.