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Training out of reach for jobless woman

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POSTED: October 30, 2009 9:33 a.m.

Each day, Dwanna Boyd fills out applications for employment.
“I have probably filled out about 80 applications already,” she said.
The single-mother of one joined the crowd of nearly 10.1 percent of Georgia’s unemployed after she was released from both of her jobs in February — one at a local hotel chain and the other as a school bus driver for the Liberty County Board of Education.
“I have been on the grind every day since then. Whether it is via e-mail or fax, I am sending resumes, trying to find something. I even apply for jobs I don’t qualify for,” she said.
“I just keep thinking ‘why me?’” she continued. “Why can’t I find something? It gets very discouraging sometimes.”
But even more frustrating, Boyd said, is when she learned that because she does not receive food stamps or other Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, she does not qualify for job training through any state-funded job support programs.
“I just wanted training so that I could go through the certified nursing assistant course,” she said. “But I was denied because I did not want to take TANF.”
According to the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services, a family of three (mother and two children) may qualify for TANF if their gross income is below $784 a month and assets are worth less than $1,000.
The maximum monthly benefit for a family of three receiving TANF is $284. It’s less for smaller families.
“What I have now might not be enough, but TANF is not enough to live off of either. So why get it?” Boyd said.
She receives $194 in child support and other monetary support from relatives and her boyfriend.
Several attempts to contact officials at the Georgia Department of Human Resources and DFACS garnered no response.
However, the agency’s Web site lists child-care assistance as the only service that is provided to families who may be affected by the recession.
“There’s a lot of people who are not getting TANF, but they need assistance too,” Boyd said. “I could see if I wasn’t out here trying to do something, but I want to work and I still can’t get help.”
Heather Boushey said she understands Dwanna’s plight.
Boushey serves as the senior economist at the Center for American Progress and is the author of several publications on welfare and welfare reform.
She said that although Thursday’s announcement that the U.S. gross domestic product had climbed up to 3.5 percent, a sign that the country could be on its way to economic recovery, there are still plenty of families trying to regain fiscal footing.
“Until that number translates into jobs then it is not a recovery for unemployed Americans,” she said.  “And what needs to happen is that the federal government needs to pump more money into the state so they can provide more services and help to people like [Dwanna] …”

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on one woman’s plight to find work and help from the government to train for a job.

 

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