Back to school: It’s hell when you’re poor
Kim and Tracy are the young mothers of three special-needs children. The men disappeared from their lives a long time ago and want nothing to do with the children. Both women are on income support and both have less than $200 a month on which to live. The children are among the slightly more than 10,000 across the province faced with the hell of going back-toschool when you’re poor.
They don’t talk much about the men, these strong, resilient young women. Kim says she fled a violent relationship from a guy who makes $35 an hour but refuses to spend a cent on the kids. Tracy doesn’t talk about the economic circumstances of the man who was in her life. She simply says, “A lot of them when they are working, when you take them to child support, they quit.”
Kim has three children. There is a daughter, 14, a borderline diabetic, born with a brain disorder and now epileptic because of the same car accident which forced Kim to quit her job. She also has two boys. One is eight and her four year old is just beginning classes. She estimates it will cost $300 to send all three of them to school this fall. It is money she doesn’t have.
Tracy has two boys, 14 and 13. Both have learning disabilities. The younger boy has also been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Sending her sons back to school will cost “a lot more than I got,” she says. She also plans to take classes this fall.
Finding a suitable back-toschool wardrobe is a nightmare. Scouring thrift stores and buying cheap items doesn’t always work, particularly for older children. If the clothing is cheap, Tracy says, it stigmatizes them and they just don’t want to go.