The recipe for achieving dreams has two main ingredients: hard work and a little help. For Monika, an Anchorage single mother of four, her dream was in sight: earn a nursing degree, find a better job, and give her four children a good life. Disciplined and studious, she had already earned a degree in early childhood education. She was ready to take the next step. But when she was accepted into the nursing program at UAA last year, she turned it down for one simple reason: childcare. Who would take care of her youngest daughter, just three years old? How would she afford childcare on top of tuition expenses? So she kept working nights as a nursing assistant, her dream just out of reach.
That’s where United Way and our partners came in. We recognize that limited access to affordable child care can be a huge barrier to financial and professional success for hardworking parents like Monika. Through free income tax preparation, Monika discovered that she was eligible for a $6,000 Earned Income Tax Credit. She was also able to enroll her daughter in Kids’ Corps’ Head Start program in Mountain View. With a little extra cash and the peace of mind that came from knowing her daughter was receiving quality care, Monika was able to enroll in the nursing program she had dreamed about.
This winter, Monika began the intensive clinical practice phase of her nursing degree. Her daughter will continue her participation in a comprehensive child development program that will promote her language, social/emotional and cognitive development. Soon, she’ll be ready to pursue dreams of her own – just like her mother.