Fayette single moms say life can be difficult

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 11, 2001

FAYETTE – Census figures released Monday show that almost 26 percent of Fayette’s households are headed by single mothers — the 10th-highest per capita percentage in the nation.

But many of the women picking up children at the Kiddy Karrousel Day Care Monday afternoon had been too busy to see the news, much less consider what such a statistic means.

&uot;There’s nobody else to take them to doctor’s appointments, nobody else to pick them up from day care,&uot; said Chanti Frye, scooping 11-month-old Javariuna into her arms and soothing away the tears of Javarius, 2. &uot;It’s hard on single mothers. And it’s happening more every day.&uot;

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Of the center’s 75 children, the majority come from homes headed by single mothers, said Director Katherine Jones.

&uot;In fact, I thought it might be higher,&uot; center owner Stella Gales said of the census statistic. &uot;I don’t see how they do it, raising children by themselves. My husband and I&160;had a hard enough time doing it, and there were two of us.&uot;

As a single mother of three children ages 20, 17 and 5, Jones knows firsthand the problems single mothers face — and she is not alone, for most of the center’s workers are single moms.

&uot;There aren’t a lot of resources for single mothers out there,&uot;&160;Jones said. &uot;These are mostly low-income people. We need to provide more jobs for them and more activities for their children.&uot;

In fact, jobs and recreational programs were the top two things single mothers of children at Kiddy Karrousel said they need to make raising their children easier.

&uot;You need somewhere to take your children to swim and more activities that parents and children can do together,&uot; said Ruby Jackson, mother of two boys, ages 2 and 9.

&uot;We need more jobs that pay more than minimum wage, because so many single moms are poor,&uot;&160;said Kalia Ellis, worker at Kiddy Karrousel and mother of two boys.

Ellis said she believes if single mothers are self-reliant, willing to work and willing to put their children’s needs ahead of everything else, they can make it.

&uot;So many women are waiting on a man to come back into their life and take care of them, but that might not happen,&uot; Ellis said. &uot;You can make it on your own — just keep striving to do your best.&uot;

A lack of higher-paying jobs is not only making it more difficult for single moms to make ends meet, but actually contributes to the breakup of families, said Walter Huston.

Huston, executive director of the Phoenix Project Community Development Foundation, helped organized the Leadership Jefferson County program to help address and make the community aware of such problems.

&uot;Not a lot of companies come to Jefferson County, and if you don’t have jobs and people have to go somewhere else to find them, you’re going to have disjointed families,&uot;&160;Huston said. &uot;There’s also a lack of job training so people can get good-paying jobs.&uot;

But some training is out there, said Taneka Rankin.

As Rankin, a former welfare recipient, rounded up three of her children at the day care, she spoke of the job training classes that allowed her to get a county job.

&uot;There’s no way to tell you how hard it is&uot; raising children alone, Rankin said, shaking her head. &uot;Being strong in your own mind — and having God on your side — is the key.

&uot;But with the job training classes, I’m doing much better. I’m better able to support them,&uot; she said, glancing over at her children with a smile. &uot;You just have to have a mind to do it.&uot;

More educational programs, such as tutoring, are definitely needed by single mothers, said the Rev. Elvis Colenburg, pastor of Hollywood Missionary Baptist Church.

&uot;I’d like to know if there are grants available to do programs like that, because they’re needed — the problem is getting the resources to do them,&uot;&160;Colenburg said.

Colenburg also said he believes that many factors have contributed to the high number of single mothers, including a departure from the Bible and a high rate of divorce.

&uot;I really hate it that those numbers are so high, but it’s not a big surprise,&uot; he said.

While Flora McKnight, a member of Leadership Jefferson County, acknowledged that single mothers need more resources to cope, McKnight said that many single parents do a great job raising children.

&uot;Some great children come from single-parent families, and they end up being successes in the world. Also, not all single mothers are on welfare,&uot; she said. &uot;And this is something you can see all over the world, not just in Jefferson County.&uot;