After more than 10 years as a social services counselor, Diane found herself in an almost unimaginable role reversal. With her 3-year-old son and teenage daughter, Diane moved to a family emergency shelter – one of the same shelters to which she referred her clients. How is the recession affecting the lives of economically vulnerable families raising young children in King County? To find out, Communities Count (a partnerhsip of City, County and other community partners) interviewed a diverse group of low- to middle-income parents.1 In this post, Communities Count explores the economic borderland that few middle-class parents ever imagine they will inhabit. From the perspective of this unfamiliar world, the essential role of social service benefits is examined in helping families work their way to self-sufficiency.