Time Banking is much more than a service exchange. It has been applied in many different ways around the world to increase civic engagement and fill the gaps where social services are depleted. Time Banking exists within the "caring economy", honoring the labor that often happens outside the cash economy like keeping neighborhoods clean and safe, caring for children and elders, keeping the planet sustainable, holding politicians accountable, creativity, art and music. Many times this labor is unacknowledged and unrewarded., Time Banking is designed to appreciated this work and recognize that it is essential to our survival. As the standard economy worsens, people are finding that Time Banks can give them a sense of security and peace of mind knowing that they are part of a community that respects whatever contribution they have to offer. Time Banking has been shown to increase confidence, health and over-all well-being. Here are some examples of how Time Banks across the country are tackling some of the toughest social problems.
- In twenty-seven of Chicago's lowest ranking elementary schools, fifth and sixth graders, (many labeled Special Education or ADD) earned time credits as tutors of first and second graders. The need for special education and remediation went down; test scores and school attendance went up; fighting and truancy went down. More than one school ceased to be on academic probation. There is nothing new about older kids tutoring younger kids. It has been validated as evidence-based.
- In a family support center, single mothers in recovery from drug addiction and returning from prison earned time credits providing instruction on AIDS and sexual abuse to teenage young women in high school. Elsewhere, parents of children diagnosed as bipolar, schizophrenic or handicapped by Severe Emotional Disturbance (SED) have banded together to prevent their children from being taken away and institutionalized. Utilizing TimeBanking to provide mutual support, they have created a statewide Parent Support. Network that is funded by the state - but that saves money, saves children and strengthens families.
- In Oakland, California, the Alameda County Department of Public Health funded a TimeBank in a neighborhood beset by racial violence. African Americans are now teaching English to Hispanics who in turn are teaching Spanish to their neighbors. Violence has gone down. We see similar bridging of ethnic, national origin, age, gender, class differences in New York City where the Visiting Nurse Service has created a Community Exchange with nearly 3,000 members in Chinatown, Washington Heights, the Lower East Side and Battery Park; 70% were born outside the US, 100% report their their physical health, mental health and well-being have improved and their trust for others has increased. In Allentown, Latino patients "pay it forward" by serving as medical translators for their doctor; with training, they get certification and are hired by the hospital.
- In upstate New York, the Youth Advocate program has incorporated a "pay-it-forward" element for youth on probation or subject to confinement at detention centers. Enrolled in a Red Cross supervised restorative justice program, they earn credits teaching homeless people to use computers, help them prepare resumes, work in soup kitchens, collect canned goods and toiletries. In Washington D.C., for the past ten years, teenagers have earned time credits by serving as jurors in the Time Dollar Youth Court, which hears the cases of peers accused of nonviolent crimes. Offenders may be sentenced to community service, life skills classes, an apology, writing an essay -- and duty on the jury. Recidivism rates are less than 10 percent; the Urban Institute estimates that the District saves $9,000 for every offender who goes to Youth Court instead of the traditional system.
- The National Homecomers Academy enrolls people leaving prison as students on a journey of personal development, learning, and service. Community service includes providing safe passage for youth too get to school safely across gang territory or helping reduce violence by teenagers in a mixed ownership-tenant housing development. Nationally, recidivism for persons returning from prison is in the 60-70 percent range within three years. So far, at the National Homecomers Academy, it is zero after a year and one half.
- In Montpelier, Vermont, the Administration on Aging has invested in a form of time banks called Carebanks. Seniors can get an assurance that informal care and support will be available if they or their families pay regular premiums—in time dollars earned helping build community or helping other seniors. In effect, the program uses time banking to create a new form of extended family. It is too early to project cost savings. But a recent study reveals that, as home-based care gets cut by state governments, hospital costs will likely rise as people are put off preventative care, or end up re-hospitalized due to the lack of transitional care.