College Persistence: Low Income Single Mother Welfare Recipients

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Fran Butler
Capella University

Title of the Study

College Persistence: Low Income Single Mother Welfare Recipients

Research Paradigm

The research paradigm that has been adopted for this study is Post-positivism and Critical-Advocacy. .

Statement of the Problem

This research will explore why a high percentage of graduates from the Life Design for Single Mums’ program are dropping out of higher education and regressing to previous program, give up or joining other community social service programs. The ‘Life Design for Single Mums’ is a two-track education program designed and structured to provide a high level of workforce literacy education and foundation skills training. As a result, participants may qualify for the jobs available now and compete effectively in the current job market, or the jobs of the future, post higher education. In recent years colleges and universities have seen significant increase in nontraditional student enrollment. The "non-traditional" label includes a variety of groups of students such as displaced homemakers, empty nesters, blue collar wives, seniors, and single parents (Marlow, 1989). A growing sub-group within the non-traditional student group is low income single mothers (Holliday, 1985). More single mothers are going to college to achieve something much more than minimum wage and welfare. However, the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, legislation barriers and the lack of adequate response by educators to the significant obstacles faced by low income single mothers, may challenge their ability to learn and complete their studies makes it difficult for them to acquire relevant post-secondary education to improve their economic status and raise their children out of poverty (Adair, 2001). It is vital that a problem statement in a research proposal is presented in context and that it is easily recognizable. Creswell (2008) observed that the problem statement should be stated in the introductory sections of the research manuscript and provide the rationale for its importance by developing justifications for studying it.

Background and Context for the Problem

The ‘Life Design for Single Mums’ is a two-track education program designed and structured to provide a high level of workforce literacy education and foundation skills training. As a result, participants may qualify for the jobs available now and compete effectively in the current job market, or the jobs of the future, post higher education. However, single mother alumni who have chosen the higher education track are dropping out of college and returning back to our program, giving up or seeking refuge in other community social service programs at alarming rates. Tinto (1975) states that there are possible connections between higher education achievements for disadvantaged students and minorities and their sociopsychological adjustments to an institution. While academic advisers do their best to provide support to students in general, low income Single mums have unique needs and need a unique system of support for their special circumstances. The ‘one size fits all approach of currently providing support hardly address the unique circumstances that low income single mothers face on a daily basis. As a result of the many obstacles facing low income single mothers, it is evident that alternatives to the traditional delivery method of skills training must be explored and institutionalized in order to increase the skill levels of this population. The purpose of our organization is to help these participants get an education and to improve their lives by coming off dependency on government programs. If our organization does not explore why this goal is not accomplished, then they are failing in fulfilling their mission statement.

Importance or Significance of the Study

The ‘Life Design for Single Mums’ is a two-track education program designed and structured to provide a high level of workforce literacy education...
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