—Alamance County, NC, aid provider, former aid recipient—
Before I got this job I was actually living in Roxboro. I was going to school. I have three daughters of my own, and so we were all getting Medicaid. There was no child support coming in from my ex-husband. I couldn’t get a job at the time. I actually was trying to get a job through the VA [Veterans Affairs]. Of course, I spent eight years in the military, but the guy up there was trying to send me…get me relocated. I didn’t want to relocated, but I tried to go for an entry level job and they were like, “Well, we don’t think this job will be challenging enough for you.” Huh? So then I’m like, well, if that’s nothing then let me go a little higher. So I tried for the other ones and they were like, “Well, you don’t have enough education.” I was stuck.
So basically, that’s what I was doing. I was living off my disability income that I get from the VA and going to school, having to take care of daughters. So yeah, we were all getting Medicaid and sometimes I had to ask for EA assistance [Emergency Assistance], which is what we’re doing today, helping get our bills paid. There is no way in the world, being where I have been, and living in income-based housing where I didn’t have a rent, but I still needed to pay for my utilities, that I could sit here and judge somebody because I know where I’ve been. And I understand that things happen.
I heard something on the radio the other morning that said the government should say to a woman if you have more than two kids maybe you can’t get any more assistance from them. I didn’t like that. That hit me, because you never know what somebody’s situation was to what they ended up where they are.
The Unpredictability of Health
My oldest daughter is asthmatic, and is on an unnamable amount of medicines that we’re still not being able to control her asthma for. And every time she has a flare up, it’s to the doctor or to the pharmacy to get more medications. At one point my sick time here was suffering, and I did that in a job before where I ended up having to go into leave without pay because I had to stay home. So, it’s a little bit hard to budget yourself when you have a child like that who is unpredictable on her medications. Like I have a bill from Duke now that I have to pay because health choice didn’t pay for it, whereas Medicaid, it wouldn’t have been an issue.
“Serena” is a caseworker at the Department of Social Services and former aid recipient. She is African-American, age 33 and was interviewed by Elon student Heather Cassano on November 13, 2012.