North Carolina, and especially the Triangle region, prides itself on being a beacon for change. From opening the nation’s first public university, to pioneering the concept of research parks that connect education and industry, at its best, our state has found innovative ways to create economic opportunities that also support families. These and other great achievements should be celebrated.
Yet, too many families in our region still struggle to make ends meet. And too often, their economic difficulties can be traced to things they have no control over. Here in our most dynamic and economically affluent areas, children born to low-income parents are more likely to grow up to raise their children in poverty than in almost any other region in the US.
Inequality doesn’t just affect individual people or families. It can be thought of as toxic for entire communities. Just as higher levels of air or water pollution can be harmful to the health and wellbeing of everyone in the community, so can bigger income gaps — and children can be negatively affected as well as adults. Research shows that people who live in more unequal societies suffer from more health and social problems than those who live in more equal communities.
What can we as a community do to better support families?
Well, one thing we know is that economic issues do not exist in a vacuum. Income inequality is tied to other challenges affecting our communities and holding people back. So, focusing on purely economic measures is not likely to solve the entire problem.
We also know that one of the primary ways children’s futures are endangered is adverse childhood events and chronic toxic stress, including the stress that families experience when they live in poverty. Access to programs and opportunities that support families help build the capacity of children to have a different future.
So one of the important ways we as a community can strengthen families is by providing parents with programs that offer them the tools they need to manage stress and buffer their children from the stress they live in.
At the Exchange Family Center, we have been supporting families and children in the Triangle for almost 25 years. Our programs nurture parents and children strengthening their relationships and giving parents tools to promote their children’s development, even in the most challenging circumstances. Find out more about our specific programs below.
What can we as individuals do to better support families?
All parents struggle from time to time, but additional strain brought about by a sudden job loss, a health crisis, or other threat to economic security, can push even the strongest parents to the brink. If you know of a family who is dealing with a difficult moment, you can help alleviate some of the pressure.
Giving of your time and energy can help make sure every child has nurturing adults to help buffer them from the effects of toxic stress. Here are some ideas of ways you can take action today to support families in your neighborhood and wider community:
- Offer to come over to the home once a week to watch the children, help around the house, and give parents a break.
- Prepare a healthy meal to share or drop off one of your favorite quick recipes along with enough ingredients to feed the whole family.
- Offer to run a few errands, such as grocery shopping or picking up the kids from school.
- Lend a sympathetic ear if a parent needs a safe space to vent their feelings and frustrations. Acknowledge that parenting is hard and every parent struggles from time to time.
You can also help by spreading the word about the free parenting support we offer at the Exchange Family Center. Any parent is welcome to call and get advice about how to navigate difficult moments with their child.
At the Exchange Family Center, we are individuals working closely with our community to support families. We serve children ages birth through 17 years old. All of our programs are FREE. Our programs are available in both English and Spanish. And they are available by phone and in the home or child care centers so that they are easily accessible.
The friendly staff at the Exchange Family Center understands that there’s no one-size-fits-all cure for the most difficult challenges families face. That’s why we work closely with you to figure out what works for your unique circumstances. Contact us today to figure out what best fits your needs.