New MO welfare law promotes employment, some say jobs unavailable

New MO welfare law promotes employment, some say jobs unavailable

EAST PRAIRIE (KFVS) - A new Missouri law is meant to encourage financial independence for low-income families, but some in the Heartland question where the jobs are at.

The Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center in East Prairie, Missouri works with adult students through a GED and work program.

East Prairie native Carol McCutchen has been a student there for two years.

"I didn't finish high school so this gives me a second a chance," McCutchen said. “Here, I do math, science, social studies. We have one on ones with teachers."

Between classes McCutchen works as a waitress and is a mother of three. She receives financial assistance for daycare from the state.

"It's really difficult to support three children on a minimum wage job," McCutchen said.

She's looking to move up but says opportunities are limited.

"It's hard to come by a good paying job," McCutchen said.

Other students are having difficulty as well.

Corey Johnston completed his GED at the learning center. He is now looking for a job but says the market in the area is slim.

"It's extremely difficult," Johnston said. "I'd like to see job growth like a big company move in."

Teachers hope their students' success can make that happen.

"We do that by building a workforce,” Program Director Lester Gillespie said. “Being able to show that we have these amount of individuals that have taken steps to ensure we have a strong workforce."

City leaders in East Prairie are listening to concerns.

They met with state officials from the Department of Economic Development, Wednesday to see what can be done.

"We've got a lot of great citizens a lot of great people,” Mayor Kevin Mainord said. “Our workforce is great, second to none. We just need opportunity for them. I think attracting businesses is what every community is trying to accomplish."

The mayor says it's all about finding their niche in the larger market.

Until more opportunities come along, McCutchen says she'll do what she can.

"It's difficult but you do what you need to do to be a positive leader for your children," McCutchen said.

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