In order to establish a healthy family it is necessary to meet basic physical needs. Nothing else can compensate for gaps in those needs being met and when they have not been met for a family it is difficult if not impossible to focus on other areas of need in building a healthy family. This is a concern that can be addressed at the level of individual families but also at a community level.
When we speak of physical needs in a prosperous nation like the United States we are generally speaking of financial needs because everything to meet our physical needs is generally available so long as someone has the money to acquire them.
Within the Family
The responsibility to provide for the financial needs of the family has traditionally been the primary responsibility of the father (although that is becoming less and less exclusive to fathers). At the level of the individual family few are able to fully control their income independent of an employer or the ups and downs of whatever industry they derive their income from. On the other hand, most families have some flexibility in their spending habits. If a family is struggling to meet their basic needs they should first examine their spending to determine if there are places where they are spending money for conveniences which should be diverted to more basic needs. Once spending habits have been examined and adjusted if necessary (giving any immediate boost that may be available) then comes the time for consideration of any opportunities to increase the available incoming finances by exploring options for career advancement, second jobs, side businesses, increased education, or career changes.
Within the Community
At the community level we should always strive to be aware of ways that we can support families in meeting their physical needs. Efforts to do this may focus on housing, education, nutrition, or employment. Many types of organizations work to provide for some or all of those needs including government, religious, non-profit, and for-profit businesses.
I have long been impressed with the efforts in my area of the LDS Employment Resource Services. This is only one of many programs by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in which they strive to help meet the physical needs of those needing assistance. (I list this simply as an example that I am familiar with and don’t mean to suggest that there are not many other helpful programs and organizations even in this area.)
I have known that they had employment services but over the last few years as we have experienced a weak economy for a prolonged period of time I have become more aware of the breadth of support that they offer. I don’t know if that is simply because of me becoming more aware of their offerings or if they have been increasing the scope of their services in that time. While I am not trying to promote this one service I can’t mention it without saying that the LDS Employment Resource Center is available to anyone, not only members of the LDS church. (I’m sure some people might assume otherwise without that disclaimer.)
I have recently learned of an innovative program in Connecticut called Platform to Employmentthat focuses on helping the long-term unemployed reenter the workforce. This sounds like an especially timely program and from what I have been able to learn is very well designed and effective in its mission. I would love to see programs such as that replicated in other areas of the country so they can benefit people outside the geographic reach of Platform to Employment.