Love, digging and dinner for Off-Ramp for 2-12-11

Hard Times: Marshelle Mills

Mercer 14676

Kevin Ferguson

Marshelle Mills at home with her one-year-old son, A.J.

Marshelle Mills is a mother of three. Her husband works for LAUSD and — until recently — she worked in child development. She's been unemployed for some time, and she's even gotten a few job offers — offers that she says she was forced to decline.

“I have three kids. Rebecca, she’s seven. My son Austin is three years old — he’s autistic, really sweet, really sensitive. And I’ve got the mean one, A.J. He’s one. A.J. is bad to the bone," said Marshelle.

Marshelle was pregnant with her youngest son when she found out she was laid off. “It was heartbreaking. I don’t want to sound over dramatic, but to me losing a job was a little bit like what I imagine going through a divorce is when you love what you do. And I loved what I did,” said Mills.

The toughest aspect of unemployment for the Mills family was the lack of affordable child care, previously provided by her former employer. With three young kids, it weighs heavily on their decision making.

"For child care per week, it's about 300 dollars a week, so about 1200 dollars a month. And frankly I don't pay that much for rent," said Mills. "That's just for a child care center certified by the state of California. That just means if they do something inappropriate, there's a watchdog. There's rules on the education level, there's rules on how many adults need to be in the room. My very fist administrative job in child care was an unlicensed facility, and that meant I'd literally be alone with 50 children. There were no rules."

"I’ve gotten some offers. Not great. My husband and I sat down and did the math," said Marshelle. "What would we make? What would the expenses be? Transportation? Wardrobe? On my best offer, we find out that I would save 100 dollars a month staying home. And frankly my kids were happier when I’m at home, it just made sense."

Marshelle remains optimistic about the future, “I think I’m good at my job, and I desperately want to go back. I just know that that the only way I’m going to be competitive is to get education, and so I’ve got to bide my time,” said Mills. “And if I’m going to bide my time to get the education I need, I have to choose not to be bitter and enjoy the moments I have with my kids at home.”


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