The Status of Women and Girls in the Rappahannock River Region

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A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nuture, transform. —D I A N E





ifty years of research has shown that social investment in women reduces poverty, raises productivity, and accelerates economic growth. Of all philanthropic dollars spent, however, only 6% goes toward programs that benefit women and girls specifically. In early 2009 the Board of Governors of the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region voted to establish a Women and Girls Fund, an endowed fund that would have a permanent stake in the well-being of the girls and women in our area. To have a measureable impact we felt we needed to identify the areas that are vital to the health and well-being of women, and ultimately to society itself. Further, we needed to apply these areas to the women and girls in the Rappahannock River region. This research has been compiled into “A Status Report of Women and Girls in the Rappahannock River Region”. The report makes no recommendations, but is a roadmap to identify the areas where our Fund can use its dollars and influence to make the greatest difference in the lives and health of our women and girls. Empowering women through philanthropy, by both giving and receiving, is our gift to society.

Mona Albertine, Chair of the Womens and Girls Fund

Angela Williams, Chair of the Research Committee

Teri McNally, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region



The measure of women who live in poverty is just one indicator. Another striking conclusion of our research reveals many talented women in our region live in the “zone” between poverty and self-reliance. These educated, experienced working women do not earn enough to meet their basic needs, particularly single women with children. Tens of thousands of women in our region fall into this category. W H AT D O E S IT M E A N TO B E E C O N O M I C A L LY S E C U R E A N D W H AT M U S T B E I N P L AC E ? Economically secure adult women have the education, employment and assets to provide a meaningful, healthy, and balanced life for themselves and their families. In order to meet this objective, women must be safe and feel safe to be fully productive. Minimum levels of education must be met. Employment must be secure and pay an equitable wage. Child care must be affordable and available when needed. Earnings should be adequate to support access to health care, reliable transportation and housing. When all of these factors are in place, women can focus beyond meeting their basic needs and contribute more fully to their communities.

For over fifty years, a growing body of research shows social investment in women reduces poverty, raises productivity, and accelerates economic growth. Our research illustrates the need for investment in our community for women and girls to strengthen and enable themselves. This investment will create positive change that will last for generations. First, however, we must answer the essential question: how can the fund make a difference in the lives of women and girls in our region? By measuring the economic security of women and girls, policymakers, advocacy groups and foundations can monitor trends to aid them in further understanding barriers which disproportionately impact women and girls. The Women and Girls Fund has adopted eight areas which we consider vital to the health and prosperity of women and girls. These eight distinct areas work interdependently to create a climate where women can prosper and build economic security. In this inaugural report, the Women and Girls Fund will use thoughtful, clearly defined measures to determine the current status of women and girls in our region. This highly targeted, localized data will inform leaders and aid in efforts to build more equitable communities. The Women and Girls Fund report is composed of two parts. This report contains information about safety, education, employment and affordable child care. The second report, containing information about health and wellness, transportation, affordable housing and leading a balanced life, will be published in late 2010.

The Community Foundation’s Women and

Girls Fund defines the welfare of women as access


he Community Foundation’s Women and Girls Fund envisions a community where everyone has the opportunity for secure employment, health care, education, affordable housing, quality child care and safe homes. Through our in-depth research, we’ve discovered this vision escapes many women and girls in our community, especially single, working mothers and mothers in low-income, two-parent families. According to the 2007 American Community Survey, over 11,000 women and 5,000 children live in poverty in the Rappahannock River region. In the city of Fredericksburg alone, 74% of the households living in poverty are headed by single females. Women and children account for 86% of all people who live in poverty in our area.1

to basic needs in the areas of health, education, housing, employment, safety, and quality of life which culminates into economic security.


If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. —A F R I C A N




When women and girls do not feel safe they are unable to fully participate in the life of a community. Across our nation, the concern for safety impacts women and girls on a daily basis, at home, in their neighborhoods, at their schools, and at work. Data shows women continue to be disproportionately affected by violent crime, sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Nearly 25% of American women report being raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabitating partner, or date at some point in their lifetime, according to the National Violence Against Women Survey, conducted from November 1995 to May 1996.2 While the emotional cost to women and girls is high, the economic impact is staggering. For example, looking at intimate partner violence, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that in 2005 the annual cost exceeded $8.3 billion nationally.3 6

S E X UAL ASSAULT Sexual assault is a traumatic life experience. It is defined as unwanted sexual contact of any kind, whether through force, abuse of power or coercion. Contrary to popular belief, over 70% of victims know their attacker. Sexual assault can result in unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and self-destructive behaviors. Sexual assault affects women across socioeconomic lines in our community.4 Although women of all ages are at risk for domestic and sexual violence, those aged 20-24 are most likely to experience sexual assault.5 Women 16-19 years old experience the second highest rate of assault. Sexual assault victims typically feel shame and suffer in silence. Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes. More than 76% of these events go unreported.6 Determining the exact scope of sexual assaults in Virginia and the Rappahannock River region is difficult. This is further complicated by the lack of a single data source that can provide definitive, uniform data.

Victims of sexual assault may have

evidence collected at local area hospitals. Forensic Nurses collect evidence, and provide for the emotional as well as medical needs of their patients. The examination process ensures that a the victim is in charge and not re-traumatized


by the evidentiary exam. During trial, the forensic nurse is an unbiased witness who testifies to the evidence.7.

W H AT W E K N O W In Virginia there were 5,317 victims of sexual assault in 2008; 86.7% of the victims were female, 71% knew their attackers, and many were related to their abusers.8 Although many incidents go unreported, a portion of victims seek medical attention at Mary Washington Hospital. In 2008, Mary Washington Hospital conducted 85 sexual assault exams on adult and adolescent women age 14 and above, and 65 exams on girls under age 14.9 To help further understand the extent of sexual assault in our region, the 2008 review of data collected by the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault (RCASA), is helpful. RCASA reported receiving 3,000 hotline calls, accompanying 147 victims to hospitals, and providing 93 victims with court-based services.10 In cases where sexual assault victims are younger than 18, Child Protective Services is contacted and coordinates the processing of the case. Safe Harbor, a child advocacy center, is now open in Spotsylvania and serves the area. This center is designed to efficiently collect evidence while reducing the investigative trauma for the child.11

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed. Never throw out anybody. —S A M



We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. —M O T H E R



I N T I MATE PARTNER VIOLENCE Intimate partner violence occurs daily and often in plain sight. Women and their abusers are skilled at hiding this pattern of violence. It is a crime difficult and dangerous to confront. Staying in the relationship as well as leaving can have life-altering consequences. The paralyzing fear and manipulation are difficult for women to overcome. The Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence (RCDV) states that a woman attempts to leave home an average of seven times before leaving permanently.12 Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors used by one person with intent to exert power and control over the other person in the context of an intimate partner relationship. Living in a violent home can be a terrifying and traumatic experience that affects every aspect of a person’s life. The threat of physical harm is real and can be found in homicide statistics. Data from the 2003 report from the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia provides the most comprehensive information and a context for crimes in our community:13 57 people were murdered in intimate partner homicides. ■

4 out of 5 victims were women. A history of intimate partner violence was noted in 36% of total homicides. 50% of all adult female homicides were killed by an intimate partner. Every 5 days a Virginian is killed by domestic violence. One in three homicides is related to family and intimate partner violence, with infants being most vulnerable to homicide. Only 7.2% of homicide victims had a protective order against their attacker.

67 children saw or heard homicides related to family or intimate partner violence or found the homicide victim. This includes intimate partner homicide, intimate partner associated homicide, child and elder homicide by caretaker, and other family homicide. ■

Protective orders can be a useful tool of protection for some victims of domestic violence. In Virginia, women

are at a distinct disadvantage from women in other states when trying to obtain protective orders against their abusers. These orders are difficult to obtain in Virginia due to the narrow criteria used in issuing. However, unlike other court orders specifying no contact, when a family abuse protective order is in place, law enforcement is authorized to respond immediately to enforce the order.14 Protective orders carry built-in accountability and can offer a number of protections in addition to ordering no contact. There has been an overwhelming increase in the number of arrests since July 1, 1997, when Virginia Code 19.2-81.3 was amended to require law enforcement officers to arrest for protective order violations. Virginia State Police data from 1997 shows there were 26 arrests for protective order violations. Ten years later, in 2007, there were 3,138 arrests. This represents roughly a 12,000% increase.15 In the Rappahannock River region, the Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence (RCDV) offers services for victims of intimate partner violence, and intervention programming for batterers. Their statistics provide a window into the scope of the problem in our region. For the 2008 fiscal year, RCDV reports:16 1,482 hotline calls (not including calls from ongoing clients). 83 women and 87 children sheltered. 52 people could not be sheltered due to lack of space. 537 victims and 167 children received support group or advocacy services. 314 victims received court-based services. Additional crime data across the Commonwealth of Virginia provides an overview. In 2007, 22,515 charges were filed across the Commonwealth for assault and battery against a family or household member.17 In addition to these charges, a significant number of individuals were charged as repeat offenders. There were 1,176 felony charges for third or subsequent offenses of assault and battery against a family or household member. Also during 2007, a total of 927 charges were filed for stalking.18



It’s so clear that you have to cherish everyone... that every soul is to be cherished, that every flower is to bloom. —A L I C E


T E E N DATING VIOLENCE Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. The CDC defines dating violence as physical, sexual, or psychological violence within a dating relationship. The CDC uses the results of nationwide, school-based surveys to measure the level of teen dating violence in our country. When teenagers across the country were asked the question, “During the past 12 months, did your boyfriend or girlfriend ever hit, slap or physically hurt you on purpose?” One out of eleven girls answered yes. The CDC estimates this number represents nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide.21 Teens who suffer from physical dating violence are more likely to experience intimate partner violence as adults.22 The CDC analysis also showed correlation between students who experience physical dating violence and those who engaged in risky behaviors in the areas of sexuality, unhealthy dieting, substance abuse, and attempted suicide.23

Early intervention and education are key when it comes to teen dating violence. It is notable that Break the Cycle, an organization that empowers youth to end domestic violence, gives Virginia a rating of F for teens seeking to obtain a protection order.24 This immediate intervention strategy should be accessible to teens. Given the possible lifelong consequences and severity of symptoms, education programs should be aggressively implemented.

Break the Cycle is an

organization that works to ‘engage, educate and empower youth to build lives and communities free

It is important to remember that many intimate partner crimes still go unreported. Providers of services to victims of intimate partner violence are concerned the economic downturn may increase the number of domestic violence cases.19 Economic stresses often lead to more frequent abuse, increased violence and more dangerous abuse when domestic violence already exists.20

from domestic violence’ and

ensure that everyone can have safe, healthy relationships.


Locally, Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault and Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence provide educational programs on healthy relationships and teen dating violence for middle and high school students.26 While these programs are available, they do not reach the majority of teenagers in the Rappahannock River region.




Prolonged poverty significantly compromises a child’s development. It is a primary risk factor for a host of negative long term outcomes including poor health, learning problems, school failure, delinquency and violence. The economic costs are equally significant and include reduced productivity of human capital, higher rates of expensive social problems, and limited economic growth. For many, the risk continues to rise. Predicting Poverty in the Commonwealth, a report by The Commonwealth Institute, which uses “research and analysis to advance the well-being of Virginia communities,” estimates that when the national unemployment rate reached 9%, in 2009, 70,000 additional children were pushed into poverty across the state of Virginia. Studies show that children who are pushed into poverty during a recession are 13 times more likely to remain in poverty as adults than individuals who do not experience poverty as children. However, interventions during times of recession are shown to be quite effective. Some intervention strategies include increasing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services TANF (Temporary Aid for Needy Families) dollars and participation rate, taking full advantage of the Federal Recovery Act, and aggressively reaching out to families recently eligible for food stamps. Proven interventions to slow the descent into poverty will pay long term benefits directly to affected children as well as the entire community. 27

Excerpt from Predicting Poverty in the Commonwealth


—Q U E E N


One of the most important things that you can do for a girl is empower her with her education. R ANIA OF JORDAN

TH E NE E D FOR EDUCATI ON Education is essential for women to attain economic security in the Rappahannock River region. Research clearly shows higher educational achievement coincides with higher earning potential. Without a high school diploma, a woman earns an average salary of $11,556 annually. However, earning a high school diploma or equivalency more than doubles a woman’s earning potential, raising wages to $26,953. Women continue to climb the wage scale when they earn a Bachelor’s degree, placing them at an average of $40,000 a year. Graduate degrees increase salaries even further, boosting their earning potential to $59,306.28 Given the strong correlation between education and earnings, the community should invest in educational initiatives that encourage women and girls to obtain high levels of education.

The number of women in the

city of Fredericksburg holding a PhD is double

Corporation for Enterprise Development ranks Virginia 7th in the nation for gender equity in educational attainment.30 The regional numbers equal or exceed state averages in most cases. However, high educational achievement eludes many women in our area. In fact, over 11,000 women living in the Rappahannock River region do not have high school diplomas.31 This number closely mirrors the number of women living in poverty in our region. Immediate eforts should be taken to provide programming support for women to obtain their high school diploma or equivalency. E D UC AT IONA L AT TA IN M E NT AND THE WAG E GAP Unfortunately, high levels of achievement are offset by a significant wage gap. Women must obtain higher levels of education to earn the same salaries as their male counterparts. This impacts female-headed households and families that increasingly depend on two incomes to sustain their families.

that of men. In Stafford and Spotsylvania Coun-


ties, the number of African American and Hispan-

The wage gap together with low educational levels among some women generates a situation likely to destine many women and their children to lives of poverty. To mitigate this situation many women in our region need to obtain their General Education Diploma (GED) as a critical first step to building economic security. Adult women seeking to obtain their GED in our region are fortunate to have access to high quality, cost effective programming. The Commonwealth of Virginia is one of only four adult education programs in the country to receive an “effective” rating from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).32 This rating is given to programs that “set ambitious goals, achieve results, are well-managed, and improve efficiency.” One agency that supports adult women in achieving their GED is the Rappahannock Area Regional Adult Education Program (RARAEP). Funding for this program is supported by a combination of state, local and federal funding.33 Virginia’s cost per adult education student is $571.34 While quality programming is avail-

ic women with Bachelor’s degrees exceeds both state and national averages.29

Geographic Region and Percent of Education Attainment Rates for Women and Men over age 25 Region

Less than High School Diploma

High School Diploma

Bachelor’s Degree

Master’s Degree Women




Rappahannock River Region










Geographic region and percent of educational attainment rates for women and men over age 25 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2005-2007 American Community Survey

For many women, the overall level of achievement is very high in the Rappahannock River region. In fact, the number of women with Bachelor’s or graduate degrees exceeds the number of men with comparable degrees. The


Co mp ariso n o f Earnings and Educa t io n L eve l by G e o gr aphic Ar e a

Geographic Area

Average Earnings Average Earnings without a High School High School Diploma Diploma Men

Caroline County




Average Earnings Average Earnings Master’s Degree Bachelor’s Degree Men





$9,379 $40,267 $24,134 $67,727 $40,000 $56,000 $61,037

King George $30,916 County

$9,432 $38,600 $30,675 $76,415 $37,286 $80,803 $68,179

Spotsylvania $30,859 $11,556 $42,690 $26,358 $78,694 $42,659 $89,700 $59,306 County Stafford County

$31,527 $16,298 $47,021 $26,953 $78,177 $43,000 $101,001 $57,736

Fredericksburg $19,022 $15,104 $27,028 $19,700 $71,657 $32,803 $49,569 $40,233 Virginia

$25,550 $15,402 $33,533 $22,158 $64,675 $41,169 $92,337 $54,569 Source: US Census Bureau, 2005-2007 American Communities Survey


able, according to the program manager for the RARAEP, securing funding, space for instruction, and staffing are persistent challenges.36 P R EPA RI N G F O R 2 1 S T C E N T UR Y J OBS

The RARAEP provided 537 women

with GED and English as a Second Language Services during their 2007/2008 fiscal year. The recent economic struggles in our region have spiked the need for GED services in the area

and created waiting lists for services. For women seeking services, the biggest barriers are transportation and child care.35

The education of women and girls in the Rappahannock River region still reflects traditional assumptions concerning women’s employment pathways. For example, females constitute 75% of the total workforce in the sales and office support sector and make up 74% of the educa-

tion and library services sector. In the higher paying math and science sectors, such as architecture and engineering, women represent just 14%. This traditional career pathing negatively affects women and our community by funneling women into low-paying occupations impacting their ability to earn a self-sufficient wage. Understanding which employment sectors pay higher salaries is critical information for women and girls as they plan for the future. The ten highest paying job categories in the Rappahannock River region for women are as follows:

Business and Financial Management Spotsylvania $64,207 Stafford $54,060 ■

Business and Financial Operation Stafford $54,940 ■

Math and Computer Occupations Caroline $72,292 King George $82,471 Spotsylvania $65,152 Stafford $74,769 ■

Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong. —E L L A



If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it. —M A R G A R E T


Architecture and Engineering Occupations King George $94,782 Spotsylvania $86,244 Stafford $67,500 ■

noted that adequate yearly progress is only one measure window into how schools service our most vulnerable girls.

Adequate yearly progress


standards include examination of overall

Because education is vital to economic success for women, we must ensure all girls receive high quality educational experiences. These experiences must start at an early age and continue through high school or college. Virginia is a place of extremes for girls. According to Virginia’s first longitudinal study of “on-time” graduation rates, for the class of 2008, over 300 girls in the Rappahannock River region did not graduate with their class. Caroline County and the city of Fredericksburg had the lowest on time graduation rates for girls with 77.3% and 81.8% respectively. On the other end of the educational spectrum, girls achieve at rates comparable to their male counterparts, drop out of school at similar rates, obtain slightly higher numbers of Advanced Studies Degree’s and attend college at similar rates.39 These varied experiences among girls set them up for very different futures.

“subgroups” of student achievement.

A thorough review of AYP data in our region reveals two persistent trends. The first trend involves middle schools and the disproportionate failure rate of this population. The second trend reveals numerous schools throughout the region which chronically failed to meet AYP. It should be

AYP status is determined by scores on the

The Rappahannock River region supports 74 public schools across the five municipalities. A review of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) accountability measures confirms variability in educational experiences for students in our area. NCLB measures a schools “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) of student achievement in reading and math. For the school year 2009-2010, 41% of the schools failed to make AYP (based on test results of the 2008-2009 school year).40

student achievement and also by

Virginia SOLs for Math and English as well as one other academic indicator selected by local school districts.

MIDDLE SC HOOLS Middle schools failed to make AYP at almost twice the rate as elementary and high schools. In two out of the past three years, 73% of middle schools failed to make AYP.41 Because middle school years are critical to the emotional and academic development of adolescent girls, the failure to meet the needs of girls in this crucial time must be diagnosed and corrected to prepare them for success in high school, college, and life. Chronically failing schools and school districts are a concern in our region. Between the school years of 2006 and 2008, 12 schools failed to make AYP for three consecutive years.42 In some municipalities, girls may attend a failing elementary school, middle school, and high school. Equity of educational experiences is an issue in the Rappahannock River region, Virginia and the United States. If we are to ensure long-term success for young girls in our area, this achievement gap must be mitigated.


In the Rappahannock River region, females make up 50.3% of the total population of 305,754: 76% of women are Caucasian, 17% African American, 5% Hispanic, and 2% Other. Women represent 47% of the total employed workforce with over 70,000 female workers in our community. The median income for men working full-time, year-round is $53,178 and $39,823 for women.43 L I V I NG AND WORKING IN THE R A P PAHANNOCK RIVER REGION


For women to become economically secure they must earn a livable wage. The Women and Girls Fund has adopted the Self-Sufficiency Standard as a measure of “livable wage.” The Self-Sufficiency Standard (the “Standard”) calculates how much money working adults need to meet their basic needs without subsidies of any kind. Poverty thresholds are set rates that require people to obtain government subsidies, food stamps and other credits just to survive. In short, poverty thresholds do not represent a livable wage. Unlike the federal poverty threshold, the Standard accounts for the costs of living and working as they vary by family size, composition, and geographic location.44 The Standard defines the amount of income necessary to meet basic needs (including paying taxes) in the regular “marketplace” without public subsidies—such as public housing, food stamps, Medicaid or child care—or private/ informal subsidies—such as free babysitting by a relative or friend, food provided by churches or local food banks, or shared housing. The Standard, therefore, estimates the level of income necessary for a given family type—whether working now or making the transition to work—to be independent of welfare and/or other public and private subsidies. 45 What does this mean in our region? Caroline County represents the least expensive cost of self-sufficiency in our region. In Caroline, a working woman with two children must earn a monthly income of

$3,032 or $32,172 annually to meet basic needs (This budget assumes the family consists of one adult, a pre-school age child and a school age child).46 Our research shows that a woman with a Bachelor’s degree living in Caroline earns a median annual income of $40,000.47 Based on this data, she must use 44% of her earnings to provide housing and childcare. In the more expensive Stafford County a working woman with two children must earn a monthly income of $4,283, or $48,201 annually to meet basic needs.48 Housing and child care represent 50% of a working mother’s budget in Stafford County. These daunting statistics represent an enormous financial burden for low income families and female-headed households. Median Annual Income for Families 49 City of Fredericksburg–$42,909 Caroline County–$51,454 King George County–$74,375 Spotsylvania County–$73,948 Stafford County–$85,793 Monthly Expenses for Caroline County 50 (One adult, one preschooler, one school-age child–2006) Child Care Tax Credit (-) $(130.00) Earned Income Tax Credit (-) $(54.24)

Taxes $452.73 Miscellaneous $234.47 re Ca h alt .65 He 283 $

Tra ns $2 por ta 55 .11 tion


Child Tax Credit (-) $(166.67)

Housing $724.89

Child Care $604.65

Food $476.43

Net Annual Income after tax credits - $32,172 Total monthly income = $3,032

A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. —M E L I N D A



Being a woman is hard work. —M A Y A


The wage gap in America persists across all employment sectors, age brackets, and experience levels. In fact, a recent analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) shows nationally, men out-earn women in nearly every occupation. Of the 500 occupational categories tracked by the Bureau of Labor statistics, women’s earnings were equal or exceeded male earnings in only 5 categories. Other important key findings include: ■

Men earn more than women in almost all occupations. The wage gap is pronounced in the ten most common occupations for women. Women earn less than men in the ten highest paying occupations for women. Women earn less than men in the ten lowest paying occupations for women.

As the wage gap accumulates over several years it represents losses to both women and their families. IWPR estimates that by the time a woman with a college degree reaches her mid-forties, the wage gap grows to a lifetime loss of roughly half a million dollars . This represents significant losses which could have translated into asset building and long-term economic security for women and their families.51

Photo courtesy of The Free Lance-Star

Monthly Expenses for Stafford County (One adult, one preschooler, one school-age child–2006) Child Care Tax Credit (-) $(100.00)

Child Tax Credit (-) $(166.67)

Housing $1248.43

Taxes $835.62

income, the region has many low-income families and female-headed households that have difficulty meeting their families’ basic needs. For women, finding a job that pays a livable wage is nearly impossible without a high level of education. Even with high levels of education, a persistent wage gap profoundly impacts women’s earning and the families which depend on their salaries to meet basic needs as illustrated in the table below:54

M e d i a n Wo m e n’ s E a r n i n g s a n d M e d i a n M e n’ s E a r n i n g i n t h e R a p p a h a n n o c k R i v e r r e g i o n 55 City of Fredericksburg

Miscellaneous $313.44

Stafford County

are h C 65 t l . a He $283

Child Care $887.40 Food $459.80

Transportation $255.11

Net Annual Income after tax credits - $48,201 Total monthly income = $4,283

Due to the recent economic downturn, unemployment is a growing concern. As of July, 2009, the national unemployment rate reached 9.5%.52 Historically, women have worked in job sectors less vulnerable to economic highs and lows, but according to a recent study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), unemployment rates among women are increasing at atypical rates during this recession.53 Women’s unemployment rates affect the entire community. When women become financially strong they actively contribute to their communities. The goal is not merely surviving, but empowering women to choose their own destiny. WAGE GAP With the area’s affluence comes a high cost of living, diverse geographic regions, diverse populations and extreme variability. In spite of the high median family

Spotsylvania County King George County

Men - Income Women - Income

Caroline County Virginia




The wage gap is measured and tracked by several governmental and nonprofit agencies. To calculate the wage gap, social scientists compare median annual earnings of females as compared to median annual earnings of males. This is typically calculated for full-time, year-round work. This ratio yields the portion of each dollar females earn as opposed to men. For example, in Stafford County a woman earns 66 cents for every dollar earned by her male counterpart.56 The table below examines the wage gap between females and males in the Rappahannock River region and is based on median annual earnings for full-time, year-round employees.

Ratio of Female to Male earnings for Full-Time, Year-Round Work57 City of Fredericksburg $0.77 Stafford County $0.66 Spotsylvania County $0.70 King George County $0.76 Caroline County $0.76 Virginia $0.76 United States $0.77



The cost of raising a child is demanding and providing quality child care is expensive at any age. For example, the cost for child care in the Rappahannock River region ranges from $600 to just under $900 per month. This amount can represent up to 20% of a family’s basic needs budget.59 Costs are highest for infants and decrease with the age of the child. Before- and after-school care for a child in a center or in a family child care home represents a significant percentage of a family income. Child care provided by a full-time center is the most expensive option, with care 24 provided by a family child care home not far behind.60 As a result low-income working mothers, with children aged 15 and under, often rely on a relative for primary child care, as seen in adjacent table on Child Care Costs in Virginia.61 These arrangements are often inflexible with limited hours. Smart Beginnings is a program in Virginia that supports early childhood development. In our area they have partnered with the Rappahannock United Way to introduce two initiatives for local children ages birth to five years.62 The Virginia Star Quality Initiative measures the quality of local child care providers “allowing families to make more informed choices and allowing child care providers a way to improve the quality of their services.” 63 A proposed Comprehensive Early Childhood Development Initiative will provide vulnerable families with help during pregnancy and with children two years and younger.64 An additional consideration in the Rappahannock River region is the distance from a child care facility. Although there is the potential of over 500 providers, these providers may still be several miles from the family residence.65 Even if the provider is just three miles in the opposite direction of


Full-time Center

INFANT Full-time Center

4 YEAR-OLD Full-time, Family Child Care Home

INFANT Full-time, Family Child Care Home

4 YEAR-OLD Before- & After-school, Center

SCHOOL-AGE Before- & After-school, Family Child Care Home










$576 $6,916 $282




“The care of children and other family dependents often fall upon women regardless of their age, economic status or race. The primary concerns regarding child care choices for most women are cost, safety, and quality.”58 For working mothers, child care availability and affordability is often critical to finding and maintaining stable employment.

Child Care Costs for Virginia

In fact, in Virginia, the cost of a year of child care

for an infant at a full-time center is more expensive than a year’s tuition and fees at a 4-year state college.

travel, this distance adds up to a whopping $139 for a 21-day work month.66 Add this to the child care costs, and the expense approaches 25% of a typical self-sufficiency income. The National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that no child under the age of 12 be left at home alone. However, Virginia is one of many states with no specific age restrictions on home-alone children.67 Summer creates additional anxiety and cost when the school session ends. These concerns are supported by US Census Bureau research, “While many families’ summer and school-year arrangements are similar, the increase in number of hours in care most likely means families spend more on child care in the summer.” 69 The limited hours of child care operation are of particular concern in our region. Many mothers commute north or south to increase their employment opportunities; however, combining the work day with commute times prohibits women from choosing this option. Working mothers must balance many factors as they maneuver work and family. For low-income women with young children, child care is more than a balancing act, but also a critical link to long-term, stable employment.


One is not born, but rather becomes a woman. —S I M O N E



Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. —M A R G A R E T



Photo courtesy of The Free Lance-Star

he data contained in this report was prepared by utilizing primary source databases, local interviews and literature surveys. The information is specific to the Rappahannock River region; however some state and national data is provided for context and comparison purposes. Unless otherwise stated, data contained in this report is specific to the Rappahannock River region. The Rappahannock River region is defined as Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford Counties as well as the City of Fredericksburg. Data sources range from current Bureau of Labor Statistics, and 2007 census data to other data sources dating back to 2006. Every possible attempt has been made to use the most current data sets and to be transparent in reporting. In certain sections, authors utilized their best judgment and practical mathematical tools to report one number to represent the region. In some cases, reporting of one number is not practical, so a range of numbers is reported. Detailed notes are provided to inform the reader of these decisions. Despite the challenges facing women and girls, there is much to celebrate and the potential for significant improvement. The enthusiastic participation of women in the formation of the Women and Girls Fund of the Rappahannock River region shows that our community is poised to be a powerful presence in our community.



Women hold up half the sky. —C H I N E S E



16. Ibid (12)

1. “American Community Survey 2005-2007,” U.S. Census Bureau, <>. Median values are used to represent regional numbers unless otherwise noted.

17. “Domestic and Sexual Violence in Virginia: 2008 Annual Report,” Office of the Attorney General, Virginia Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, 31 December 2008.


18. Ibid (8)

2. National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The National Violence Against Women (NVAW) Survey, November 1995-May 1996. 3. “Understanding Intimate Partner Violence: 2006 Fact Sheet,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006, < ipv-factsheet-a.pdf>, Retrieved: 21 May 2009. 4. “Adverse Health Conditions and Health Risk Behaviors Associated with Intimate Partner Violence - United States, 2005,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Vol. 57 Issue 5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 February 2008, Retrieved: 21 May 2009. 5. “The Facts on Domestic, Dating and Sexual Violence,” Family Violence Prevention Fund, 2009. 6. Ibid (4) 7. Interview by Marsha Zaidman with Gayle Perkins, Mary Washington Hospital, Manager of Forensic Services, Fredericksburg, VA, 11 June 2009. 8. “Crime in Virginia 2007,” Virginia Uniform Crime Reporting Program, Department of State Police, 9 September 2008, < in_Virginia.shtm> Retrieved: May 10, 2009. 9.

Ibid (7)

10. “RCASA Annual Report FY2008,” Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault, <http http://rcasa. org/images/RCASA_Financial_Report2008.pdf> Retrieved: 2 June 2009. 11. Ibid (7) 12. “Annual Report 2008,” Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence, 2008. 13. “Family and Intimate Partner Homicide Virginia, 2007,” Virginia Department of Health, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, October 2009. 14. Ibid (13) 15. Ibid (8)

19. “Two Cases, Recession Brings New Attention to Domestic Violence,” Transcript of radio broadcast: 27 February 2009. 20. “Recession Leading to Rise in Family Violence in Canada,” Recession leading to rise in family violence in Canada English Xinhua, 15 April 2009, <http:// 11191790.htm> Retrieved: 12 May 2009. 21. “2007 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey Overview,” Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Summer 2008, < yrbs07_us_overview.pdf> Retrieved: 3 March 2009. 22. Ibid (3) 23. Ibid (21) 24. “State Report Card: Virginia”, Break The Cycle, January 2009 < -state-report-cards/state-report-card-virginia-2009. pdf> 3 March 2009. 25. Ibid (24) 26. Ibid (12) EMPLOYMENT AND EDUCATION ENDNOTES 27. “Predicting Poverty in the Commonwealth: As Virginia’s Recession Worsens Thousands More Children Will Be Pushed into Poverty,” The Commonwealth Institute and Voices for Virginia’s Children, 17 February 2009, < /Portals/16/Health/ 090217unemploymentpovertylink.pdf> Retrieved: 15 March 2009. 28. Ibid (1) 29. Ibid (1) 30. “2007-2008 Assets and Opportunities Score Card,” Corporation for Enterprise Development, <http://www.> Retrieved: 17 March 2009.


31. “On Time Graduation Rate,” Virginia Department of Education, < ontime_grad_rate.shtml>.

54. “Memo to John Roberts: The Gender Wage Gap is Real,” The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, September 2005

32. Sanborn, Victoria Gerkens and Hillary D. Major, “Virginia’s not-so-hidden secret: The Adult Literacy Crisis,” Virginia Issues and Answers, Summer 2008, pg. 2.

55. Ibid (1)

33. Phone interview by Angela Williams with Betsy Mathias, Rappahannock Area Regional Adult Education Program, Program Manager, Fredericksburg, VA, 3 March 2009.


34. Ibid (30) 35. Ibid (33)

57. Ibid (1)

58. “Holding Up Half the Sky; A Report on the Status of Women and Girls in Fairfield County”, Fairfield County Community Foundation, April 2007, p. 7. 59. Ibid (44)

38. Ibid (1)

60. News Release “Nearly Half of Preschoolers Receive Child Care from Relatives,” U.S Census Bureau News, U.S Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 20233, February 28, 2008.

39. Ibid (31)

61. Ibid (58)

40. Ibid (30)

62. “Child Care Takes a Bigger Bite,” Cathy Dyson, The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, VA, October 5, 2008.

36. Ibid (33) 37. Ibid (1)


56. Ibid (1)

41. Ibid (31) 42. Ibid (31) 43. Ibid (1) 44. “The Self-Sufficiency Standard,” Six Strategies for Family Economic Self-Sufficiency, 2001 <http://www. cfm> Retrieved: 28 February 2009. 45. Ibid (44) 46 Ibid (44) 47. Ibid (1) 48. Ibid (44) 49. Ibid (1) 50. Ibid (44) 51. “The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation,” The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, April 2009. 52. “Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey,” United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, < Servlet?series_id=LNS14000000> Retrieved: 19 September 2009. 53. Harmann, Heidi, Ph.D. “The Impact of the Current Economic Downturn on Women,” The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Testimony presented to the Joint Economic Committee at the hearing: “The Employment Situation: May 2008,” 6 June 2008.

63. “IRS Announces 2009 Standard Mileage Rates,” Internal Revenue Service, 24 November 2008, <http://,,id=200505,00.html> 23 March 2009. 64. ”Age Restrictions for Latch Key Kids,” Database Systems Corporation, < latchkey-kids-age-limits.htm>, March 2009. 65. “2008 Child Care in the State of Virginia,” National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (NACCRRA) and Virginia Child Care Resource and Referral Network, March 2008. 66. “Who’s Minding the Kids in the Summer? Child Care Arrangements for Summer 2006”, Lynda Laughlin

- U.S. Census Bureau, Joseph Rukus - Cornell University, Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, Detroit, MI April 30 – May 2, 2009.

A BO UT TH E COM MU N IT Y FO U N DATI O N The Community Foundation is an organization that focuses on building philanthropy in our community by connecting people who care with causes that matter. Through our donors we build permanent endowments that create funding for nonprofit organizations in perpetuity. When you are ready to explore your charitable giving options, this is the place to begin. W H AT YO U C AN D O Become a Charter Member: Your donation today will help build the endowment fund to allow larger grants to be made in the future. Gifts are fully tax deductible as charitable contributions to the extent allowed by the law. To donate, please visit: Spread the word: tell your friends about the fund, invite them to join in the effort, host an event to teach others about women and girls issues. AC K N OW LE D G EM E NTS This report was a germ of an idea in February 2009. Eleven months later it has grown into an inspiring roadmap to change the status of women and girls in our community. We acknowledge with gratitude the leadership of Angela Williams, Chair of the Women and Girls Fund Research Committee for her unwavering commitment throughout this process. We also could not have completed our research without dedicated committee members, Marsha Zaidman, Lynn Simms and Cathy Wack. We also acknowledge with appreciation for thoughtful insights and editing from Jacqueline Wack King, Stephanie Monroe, Kim Smart, Lyn Phillips, and special thanks to our intern Mary Cadwallender. Our hats are off to Tina Jackson ( for the incredible photography in this report and the creative talents of designers, Louise Spangler and Neil Glancy. The Women and Girls Executive Committee: Mona Albertine, Chair, Ana Garcia Chichester, Susan Hansen, Mary Jane O’Neill, Linda Sealy, Cathy Wack, Angela Williams and Teri McNally, Executive Director of the Community Foundation.

WOM E N A N D G I R L S FU N D C H A RTE R M E M BE R S Mona Albertine *Anne Allen * Stephanie Armstrong * Jessica Beringer * Ann Black * Betty Blaisdell * Sara Branner * Doris Buffett * Ana Garcia Chichester * Nancy Cherwek * Anita Churchill * Linda Coker * Peggy Conway * Marion Dietz-Blair * Delise Dickard * Doris Dickinson * Dori Eglevsky * Gladys Fagan * Ann Firth * Heather Foley * Jinxie Forbush * Jackie Fowler * Carter Frackelton * Pat Frazer * Fredericksburg Learning Enhancement Center * Janice Gage * Betsy Glassie * Angie Hallberg * Susan Hansen * Lucy Harman * Donna Hart * Jennifer Hellier * Mary Hillard * Joyce Hite * Mary Louise Holmes * Dona Holt * Gayle Houck * Amelia Hovermale * Robin Huddle * Ellen Jarrell * Lillian Kendall * Bernie Kenneweg * Dee Kitterman * Jeanne Klotz * Katherine Lovello * Christine Lynch * Patti Lynch * Susan Neal * Carol Manns * Dana Marshall * Celie Massey * Carolyn Mathur * Maggie McCormack * Mary Wynn McDaniel * Rennie McDaniel * Tricia McDaniel * Deborah McManus * Teri McNally * Jennalee McNally * Nancy Miller * Rhonda Morgan * Marilyn Moon * Richelle Moore * Linda Moore * Wendy Moore * Michaele Morton * Barbara Muir * Carolyn Nelson * Bev Newlin * Alice Nuckols * Carrie O’Malley * Mary Jane O’Neill * Katy Overton * Sandra Pearson * Sarah Pierson * Linda Pisenti * Joan Poland * Betsy Quarles * Katherine Quarles * Jeannine Richardson * Julie Ricketts * Retta Robbins * Brooke Satterwhite * Melissa Schmidt * Linda Fagan Sealy * Georganne Sellars * Ann Sears * Barbara Segar * Lori Simms * Lynn Simms * Debbie Simpson * Kim Smart * Shaun Sullivan * Jan Taczak * Laura Taylor * Penny Turner * Cathy Wack * Kitty Wafle * Jeannine Wampler * Rosalind Whitescarver * Archer Williams * Susan L. Williams * Susan S. Williams * Angela Williams * Kelsey Williams * Barbara Willis * Debby Willis * Victoria Willis * Alma Withers * Dale Wright * Marsha Zaidman *

This project was made possible through generous funding from Mary Washington Healthcare Women’s Center of Excellence and the commitment of Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region Board of Governors both past and present.



P.O. BOX 208 FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA 22404-0208 540.373.9292