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Training, mental health recovery called key for single moms to escape poverty

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Eric Galatas

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(Wyoming News Service) A Wyoming nonprofit is helping single mothers climb out of poverty by connecting them with the training and support they need to step into and succeed at good-paying jobs.

Katie Hogarty, CEO of Climb Wyoming, explained her team taps a wide range of community partners, including school counselors, soup kitchens and clinics, to identify women in need. Climb then works with moms to find child care they can trust, and the entire free training program can be completed in as little as 12 weeks.

"We have a 98 percent graduation rate, and 86 percent of our graduates have doubled or even tripled their wages two years post-program," Hogarty reported. "We have really phenomenal outcomes for such a short training program."

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One in four Wyoming kids live in single-parent families, according to Wyoming Community Foundation data, and those kids are more likely to live in poverty compared to their peers in married-parent families. Since 1986, Climb Wyoming has served more than 12,000 moms and 25,000 children.

Hogarty argued access to jobs is key to positive outcomes, so each of their six sites across the state build relationships with local employers to make sure women are getting the most relevant training. Climb pays for each new employee's first six weeks' wages, and provides ongoing support to help participants settle into new routines.

"We have a commitment to providing training for higher paying jobs so that women really can move their families out of poverty," Hogarty noted. "In some of our communities, we really focus on medical careers. In some of our communities, we focus on construction trades. It really just depends on each community."

The group's specialty is helping people whose brains have been stressed by the trauma of nonstop fight, flight or freeze mode that comes with extreme poverty recover and strengthen their executive functions critical for successful employment. Hogarty added when you move a mom out of poverty, the effects on the second generation are substantial.

"The children of our graduates are having more success in school, they're healthier, they're more stable," Hogarty emphasized. "That's why we all do this work, because we believe in a strong Wyoming and strong families."