Member Assistance Program (MAP)

Family Issues

Coping with Financial Crisis

Long before the experts were emphasizing an economic downturn, the average American was already feeling its effects. Higher prices on food, clothing and everyday staples, along with sticker shock at the gas pump, means that it is getting harder and harder to make ends meet. With unemployment rates at their highest, we may have family members who are out of work and depending on us to help out. Many will be forced to withdraw their entire savings accounts or overextend their credit just to get by. At a time when finances are already extremely tight, even one unexpected family emergency can become the proverbial straw on the camel’s back – leading to full blown financial crisis. In the hardest hit communities, hard-working families are facing financial ruin and home foreclosure.

When it Rains, it Pours Sign up for information on Gov't Resources that can Hlep During Tough Financial TimesFinancial crisis wreaks havoc on everyone in the family. Husbands and wives tend to argue, no matter how much they love each other. Children often react to the household tension by becoming more aggressive or demanding, or behaviorally “acting out” to get attention. Fears about coping in the here-and-now and worries about the future can cause sleepless nights, anxiety and clinical depression. Sometimes, these pressures can be so overwhelming, that it is hard to know where to turn for help.

Help is Available

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in seeking help to resolve financial crisis is getting through the “red tape” to connect with whatever help might be available. For hard working families who are used to being economically self-sufficient, it isn’t easy to talk to a stranger about the intimate details of a personal family financial crisis. For families who have never sought help before, the idea of applying for social services or welfare can cause embarrassment. Sadly, the stigma that accompanies financial crisis can prevent families from reaching out for the support they so desperately need and to which they are entitled.

The union has developed a number of programs and services to make it easier for union families to navigate the maze of financial resources. Here are some general guidelines about how to go about seeking help:

Begin with your Union Benefit Programs

Your Union has developed a variety of programs and services to assist union families in need. Many of these programs provide telephone access to financial counselors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Information and resources are also available online at Information kits are available online in English and Spanish.

Specialty programs available though Union Plus include:

Connect with Community Resources

While most communities have felt the pinch of budget cuts, limited community resources are sometimes available to assist families in need. Your local United Way office, which is accessible in the phone book yellow pages or on the Internet, can provide a variety of referrals to charitable organizations. United Way keeps information current on utility, rent and mortgage assistance, as well as referrals to food banks, and other community services. There are a wide range of resources specifically designed to assist children and seniors, in addition to families.

Another option involves contacting your local social services office. These agencies provide financial help including food stamps, rental and mortgage assistance, and health coverage to those who qualify. These agencies are often difficult to reach on the telephone, and it is generally best to apply in person, preferably in the morning. Some communities offer one-time emergency assistance programs designed to prevent home foreclosure. Your union social worker (Member Assistance Program) can assist you to locate the social services office nearest you, and to advocate on your behalf.

It is important to remember that the sooner you connect with agencies, the more quickly assistance can be provided. While financial crisis can be embarrassing, it is important to remember that these agencies have been created for the purpose of assisting hard working families in crisis. Agency staff understands that financial hardship is impacting more and more families every day, and that crises sometimes occur without warning.

Stress Management Tips for Managing Financial Crisis

Family Issues

620 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: 202.783.3788
Toll free: 1.888.880.8222