Single Moms and Welfare Woes A Higher-Education Dilemma

Single Moms and Welfare Woes A Higher-Education Dilemma

If earning a qualification is vital to getting solitary mothers and their own families out of poverty, exactly why is it so difficult for them to go to college?

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Jacklyn Trainor had been a 28-year-old solitary mother in a composing class I taught in 2014 at Housatonic Community university in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Trainor was increasing two children, juggling childcare, homework, and waitressing. (Because I’m open about my personal battles attending graduate sch l being a solitary moms and dad, students often ask me for advice or share their experiences.) “I hated working dead-end jobs and barely getting by,” Trainor, whoever name that is last then had been Canales, recently told me. “I really want to further my training to obtain a job and a much better life for my kids.”

For Trainor, hard circumstances made achieving that goal difficult. She’d defaulted for a student loan many years earlier from the false come from nursing college, so that it had been nearly impossible to be eligible for a financial aid to college. But Trainor ended up being fortunate; her household wanted to buy a few classes at Housatonic Community College, or HCC.

From the 12 million single-parent families in the usa, a large proportion a lot more than 80 per cent are headed by ladies. These households are far more likely than other group that is demographic fall below the poverty line. In fact, census information demonstrates that roughly 40 percent of single-mother-headed families are p r. Why? professionals point to weak social-safety nets, inadequate son or daughter help, and lower levels of training, among other facets.

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Although many bad, single moms today are utilized, most of them will work in low-wage jobs, often in roles without benefits. Making a college degree is usually the best route up to a high-paying job but many among these women think it is difficult to fit classes as a schedule already filled with work and childcare. One research of 158 single-mother college students in nyc unearthed that 100 % for the former welfare recipients whom received four-year levels stopped relying on public-benefit programs, compared to 81 per cent of these whom got two-year levels. If making a qualification is really effective in closing bad moms’ reliance on welfare, why aren’t policymakers making it easier for low-income single moms to get university? The clear answer is complicated.

For single parents who depend on public support, university classes do not count as “work” in many states, numerous of these whom return to sch l lose access to benefits like childcare vouchers and cash support. The Welfare Reform Act of 1996, which restricted recipients’ access to cash assistance, also restricted this is of “work” to nine core groups. Work credit is basically limited to vocation-focused academic training, and only for the optimum of one year. Each state features its own regulations that are specific.

For Trainor, attending classes counted toward a number of her work benefits. So, every a couple of weeks, she’d hold back until the class emptied to inquire of me to sign her work-verification forms and confirm she’d experienced college. To retain eligibility for money assistance, the state of Connecticut requires that recipients meet 2 times a week along with their caseworkers to provide documented pr f of any hours they work, attend college, or visit a task.

Also complying with all the complicated regulations doesn’t guarantee recipients receive benefits if they require them, as Jessica McLeod, a solitary mother in Boston, found. We first interviewed McLeod for my dissertation a years that are few. She’d lived in a shelter before she enrolled in community college. After making a 3.7 GPA in community university, she ended up being accepted into the medical system at Bay State College, a for-profit organization that mainly offers two-year levels. As a full-time pupil at Bay State, McLeod relied on meals stamps, cash assistance, and a childcare voucher on her 8-year-old child Alia.

“I went through three different caseworkers who were therefore nasty about my being fully a full-time student,” said McLeod, who’s now 38 and working full-time as a registered nurse. The caseworkers had to verify McLeod’s work-participation paperwork to ensure she was fulfilling all of the benefit program’s requirements as with Trainor. And although education programs like the one in which McLeod had been enrolled can count toward those needs, it seems that caseworkers often prefer vocational training instead of university classes. “you working,” McLeod said unless you’re doing their training to become a home health aide … [the caseworkers] just want. “Don’t they understand I’m planning to college in order that I don’t have to use these benefits anymore?”

Studies in Georgia and California reveal a similar lack of help among welfare caseworkers for p r mothers wanting to make college degrees. Somewhat over fifty percent of the recipients surveyed into the Ca study reported that their welfare caseworkers had been a “hindrance” for their university success. An associate professor of sociology at Central Connecticut State University, found that some admitted to discouraging single-mother recipients from pursuing educational opportunities and instead steering them toward paid work in interviews with case managers in Georgia, Fiona Pearson. “Even that a particular [cash-assistance] participant should stay in sch l, they felt bound by [federal] policy to counsel them away from a four-year degree,” Pearson told me if they felt themselves.

Certainly, according to Pearson, the Temporary that is federal Assistance Needy Families (TANF) system encourages caseworkers to concentrate on work versus education. Inside her paper, posted in the journal Gender & community in 2007, Pearson cited the 2006 legislation reauthorizing the scheduled program as the reason for that change in focus “The TANF program was not designed to be considered a university scholarship program for postsecondary education,” the legislation checks out.

Being a medical pupil, McLeod was required to document 20 hours per week of additional volunteer or work tasks to remain qualified to receive welfare advantages. She stated she always presented those kinds on time. Still, their state kept terminating her benefits, saying she’d did not match the demands or submit the necessary types.

“It’s an awful feeling to have that page in the mail, saying your childcare voucher was terminated,” said McLeod, including that she spent hours in various offices l king to get her benefits straightened away, sometimes sch l that is even missing. Finally, McLeod found a legal-aid lawyer who been able to reinstate her advantages after speaking with officials at the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), which oversees the state’s welfare programs.