Date of Award

Summer 1-1-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy In Urban Education Degree


Education And Human Services

First Advisor

Hansman, Catherine

Second Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Messemer

Third Advisor

Dr. JoAnn Goodell


This research addresses the barriers, support, and aspiration of single mothers participating in work-based training programs. This basic qualitative interpretive study aimed to fill a gap in the literature on understanding the barriers low-wage adult single mother service workers encounter while participating in voluntary workplace learning programs and the support, which has allowed them to persevere. The research considered the following: 1) What were the perceived barriers low-wage, single, adult mothers faced while participating in work-based voluntary training programs offered by their employers? 2) The types of support systems low-wage single adult female participants received while pursuing work-based voluntary training programs? 3) To what degree did participating in work-based voluntary training programs impact low-wage single adult mothers' career plans? Data were collected through face-to-face semi-structured interviews with 15 lowwage single mother participants working either full or part-time in one of two healthcare facilities in Ohio and Michigan. This study used the situational, dispositional, and institutional barriers to learning in Cross (1981) as its theoretical framework. The findings from this study indicate that low-wage single mothers faced obstacles such as lack of childcare, transportation, finances, and time. Time poverty was one of the most insidious barriers reported in this study. Additionally, this study showed how low-wage vii single mothers navigated their environment by seeking support from various resources as they participated in work-based training programs. The findings of this study suggest that public policy can play a pivotal role in addressing challenges specific to low-wage single working mothers by increasing their economic opportunity, and possibly strengthen the fabric of communities across the nation. Of particular interest is how the government can best aid in assisting single working mothers to gain the financial security through education and skills training while providing a robust economic future for their children.

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