An Opportunity to Pursue Higher Education

On Monday, the Nebraska Legislature voted 36-0 to approve LB 842 on general file.  The bill will ensure that Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) recipients can continue to pursue an Associates Degree for up to 36 months to meet their work requirements under the program. The policy prior to 2009 only allowed ADC recipients to pursue an Associates Degree for up to 12 months, which provided insufficient time for individuals to complete a degree program.  Ashley Fischer, a mom and college student, testified at the Legislature in support of the bill and shared how the policy has helped her pursue an education and support her family.

[DDET Ashley Fischer’s Testimony in support of LB 842]

In the spring of 2009, I became a single parent. Upon the advice of friends, I enrolled in classes at the nearby community college in an attempt to gain an education and better the life of my family. As a newly single mom, I was suddenly living alone with more responsibilities than I knew how to handle. Fortunately my caseworker with the Department of Health and Human Services was able to refer me to programs that offered personal, emotional, and financial support such as Aid to Dependent Children. This program has encouraged me to gain the skills needed to find gainful employment through work experience, volunteer opportunities, and most importantly, an education. My experience with this program has been very positive. I have been in it for nearly 3 years now and can’t imagine that I would have made it as far as I have without it.

In December of 2009, I received an Associate of Science degree and am currently working on my Bachelor’s in Social Work. I will be completing this program in the spring of 2013, and will be able to find meaningful work and come off of the ADC program. However, without it, I couldn’t have met all of my responsibilities and remained in college. My caseworkers have helped me to make goals and a plan to reach them. Each week, I am accountable for the time I spend in class and studying. Because I don’t have a lot of close family support, the encouragement and support that I receive from the program helps me to keep on track in reaching my goals.

Attaining my Associates degree while raising three small children in 20 months was no easy feat. I never took a break from classes; I even attended classes during summer breaks and most times, took 20 credit hours, which is well over the full time status of 12. With the responsibility of caring for a family, I don’t know how most ADC recipients could possibly complete an associate degree in less than 2 years. This is why I support the proposed amendment to LB 842; so that other families are fortunate enough to have the same opportunities that I have been presented with.[/DDET]

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