Firm Foundations for ALICE Children

Supporting ALICE Children Brings Financial Stability

by Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director – United Way of Charlotte County

Southwest Florida is a great place for tourists. There are ample stores to shop at and restaurants to eat in. There are sandy beaches. There is beautiful weather year-round.

But unfortunately, the large service industry combined with the ever-increasing cost of living can make for a very unbalanced budget for many young families who call Southwest Florida home.

A large number of adults in our community struggle financially, making it difficult to offer their children a firm foundation when it comes to housing, food, health care, education and more.  

The latest research from United For ALICE, released this past week, is an in depth look at ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) children. Children below the ALICE threshold are those under age 18 living in households with income below the basic cost of living for their communities. The research highlights barriers that so many children face in the nation, in our state and in our own backyard.

“Having accurate, complete data is the foundation for designing equitable solutions,” said United For ALICE National Director Stephanie Hoopes, Ph.D. “COVID-19 hit ALICE families so much harder than others because they struggle to build savings yet often don’t qualify for financial assistance.”

While 22% of all children in Charlotte County were deemed in poverty in 2019, the report shows that 30% lived in families defined as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE households earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, but less than what it costs to live and work in the modern economy. Combined, 52% of Charlotte County’s children lived in households below the ALICE Threshold, with income that doesn’t meet the basic costs of housing, childcare, health care, transportation and a smartphone plan.

Financial stability among children is largely impacted by the job status of their household members. But even having working parents or guardians doesn’t guarantee financial stability. In 2019, 28% of Charlotte County children lived in a home with two working adults whose income still didn’t meet the cost of basic needs. The reality is that our working families are struggling.

ALICE in Focus: Children is the first installment in the ALICE in Focus Research Series, which draws from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS). Each installment in the series will highlight a specific segment within the ALICE demographic. Upcoming topics include people with disabilities and veterans.

More data is available through the ALICE in Focus: Children interactive data dashboard – which provides filters for regional and local geographies, age, race, disability status, living arrangements and household work status. Visit

At United Way of Charlotte County, we fight for ALICE. We provide and fund programs that aim to break the cycle of poverty with a multi-generational lens. While we want to provide for acute needs as they arise, we also look at prevention efforts in order to build stronger foundations for our children that will lead to a more financially stable future.

To learn more about ALICE in Charlotte County or to make a donation, visit  

For more information about United Way of Charlotte County’s mission:  Mobilizing the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty, please contact Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director. She can be reached at