Thank you for this thoughtful and well-substantiated piece. I am the founder of a nonprofit called Benevolent at http://yourhomeworkhelp.org and we've found precisely the same divergence from stereotypes in the striving low-income families who seek support through our site. On the whole, low-income parents are focused on goals of education, stable and sustaining employment, safe housing and freedom from violence in their families' lives. Our systems of support, employment and education often throw up unintended barriers to people's progress towards these goals and low wages make it hard for families to meet all their families' needs at once.
Our observation and citation here: "If you are thinking, Well, then they should find better-paying jobs, consider this: more than one out of five jobs in the U.S. pays at a rate that is below the poverty threshold (Waldron et al, 2004)." Rings through dozens of people's real-life experiences.
An example is Kris who had been homeless with her teenage son. She's now employed and they've got a place to live. Kris would like to save up to help her son be the first in their family to go to college (he's an Honor Roll student) but she knows he needs a bed to sleep on right now.
Thank you for this piece and for the research and thought behind it.