City Council to approve plan to create dog grooming school aimed at helping single moms get jobs

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The City Council Thursday is expected to approve a plan to turn a vacant city building into a dog grooming school.

The idea is to help single moms living in poverty learn a skill that will lead them to a good-paying job that's in demand.

43-year-old Michelle Jones will be one of the first students to enroll in the training program. The mother of three children is struggling to get off welfare and must take the bus to her low-paying, dead-end job.

She's eager to become a professional dog groomer, where research shows she can earn an average of $19 an hour.

"I thought it was an excellent decision for the simple fact that we get free training and then we can make more money," Jones said. "Because the money that I am making right now, no. But the income that she was saying, the lady with the dog grooming, was excellent."

The city is expected to spend $100,000 to renovate a building near 59th and Troost into a dog grooming school. $120,000 in private donations also will go into the rehab effort.

"We feel like with the flexibility with grooming that she can start getting her start during the day maybe working part-time, whatever fits her schedule with the kids, and however she can keep her welfare benefits," said Natasha Kirsch, a social entrepreneur who founded Empower the Parent to Empower the Child. "Then when she is good she can start working full-time, she can make $19 an hour and by that time she will no longer need child care and housing because she can support herself."

Charitable groups will help identify nine students for each six-month course. The parents also will receive life skills training as part of this education. If all goes well, the first class is scheduled to begin in January.