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Moms Fleeing Abuse Get Help with Kids While Restarting Lives

August 11, 2009

PHOENIX, Ariz. - As domestic violence rises with the recession, Arizona's emergency children's shelters are seeing more mothers show up with their kids and little else: no money, no housing, no car, no job. The shelters provide safe haven for the children while Mom seeks work and housing to start rebuilding their lives.

Jodi Stoken is development director with Child Crisis Center, one of at least three Arizona shelters providing a safe, temporary place to leave the kids while Mom does things like apply for assistance and work, and she says that's important.

"If a mother is seeking employment, it may be in her best interest not to have the children with her, so that she can be reflected in the best light possible to become employed."

Stoken says the shelters help minimize the emotional damage to kids caught in these situations by providing a positive, home-like environment. Initial stays are limited to a few days, but can be extended depending on individual circumstances and available space.

Stoken says it's not just women fleeing domestic violence who show up at shelters. There are plenty of other reasons why a single parent may need emergency child care.

"Maybe the mother has health issues and there're no relatives, nobody to watch the children. She might need to be admitted into the hospital. There might be a lack of utilities, or incarcerated parents, a myriad of situations."

Stoken says the shelters can also provide health care, extra clothing and even a few toys for kids to take with them when they leave the shelter.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ