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Arkansas Women's Commission hears about challenges faced by single moms

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Arkansas Women's Commission YouTube page
The Arkansas Women's Commission held its fifth meeting in Mountain Home. The commission was reinstated earlier this year by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Single mothers in Arkansas told the Arkansas Women’s Commission access to capital and child care continues to be a barrier in their pursuit of a post secondary education.

During a panel discussion Thursday in Mountain Home, several mothers told commissioners it can be difficult to care for their children while taking classes. Kayla Barnell, a single mother from Gassville who is trying to become a nurse, said with aging grandparents and a busy work schedule she has no choice but to seek child care services that are out of town.

“I work at night and in order to have child care, I have to drive to Gamaliel and I don’t know if anyone has noticed but gas prices are not cheap,” Barnell said. “I drive a ‘98 Jeep Cherokee with a fuel injector and that is just terrible.”

She told the commission that she is down to $3 in her bank account and has an eighth of a tank of gas remaining in her vehicle.

Jennifer Dedic, a single mother working on becoming a nurse, agreed with Barnell, adding another challenge is that outside of scholarships there isn’t much financial support for single mothers.

“You have no credit, you can’t apply for a school loan. You don’t have any family to co-sign for that loan, so what do you do?

Then you just rely on FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid),” Dedic said. “FAFSA covers your tuition, but it doesn’t cover the portion of where I am going to get food, how I will put gas in my car, how am I just going to be able to live life somehow other than school 24/7.”

Dedic added one of the challenges of relying on scholarships is the amount of each can be lowered for those who are awarded multiple grants.

About the Commission

Through an executive order, Gov. Asa Hutchinson reinstated the Arkansas Women’s Commission in February to study barriers to women in education and business. The commission was originally created by former Gov. Orval Faubus in response to then- President John F. Kennedy urging states to study the issue of discrimination toward women.

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