Virginia Group Gives Single Moms a Chance at Self-Sufficiency

Sarah Torre /

A recent WORLD magazine article highlights the success of a Virginia organization committed to providing struggling single mothers an opportunity for self-sufficiency.

Borromeo Housing, located just outside the nation’s capital in Arlington, Virginia, offers low-income, undereducated single mothers a safe, structured environment to begin building a stable life for themselves and their children.

The value and necessity of work in achieving self-sufficiency is instilled in women served by Borromeo. In addition to seeking educational opportunities—whether through GED preparation, college classes, or job skills instruction—women living in the organization’s two housing locations are required to work at least 35 hours a week.

Borromeo demands hard work inside the home as well: an early nightly curfew, household chores, and mandatory group meetings keep the houses running smoothly. Women also attend regular parenting classes to ensure that their children are properly cared for and to learn the skills necessary to maintain a family of their own.

Borromeo’s emphasis on self-improvement and employment yields impressive results. Over 90 percent of the program’s graduates achieve and sustain financial independence and have created stable homes for their children. Almost as many graduates pursue additional educational opportunities through technical or college-level programs. Women who complete the Borromeo program also rebuild their personal lives, restoring relationships with family members and successfully preventing repeat unplanned pregnancies.

The individual care, commitment to promoting work, and ultimate success of many private institutions like Borromeo Housing stand in stark contrast to the effects of government welfare programs. Despite ever-increasing spending on federal means-tested assistance, roughly three-quarters of which goes to single-parent families, and poverty rates have remained largely unchanged. Anonymous checks from a distant federal government—which fail to address the root causes of poverty or encourage employment—often leave single mothers dependent on the system with little chance for self-sufficiency.

Policymakers, however, can reform federal welfare programs to promote personal responsibility by implementing incentives for work, which would provide poor families an avenue toward independence and true flourishing.

To learn more about Borromeo Housing and read some of the organization’s many success stories, check out WORLD magazine’s latest issue.