A New Look At Welfare - November 2001

Denver Women's Commission
A New Look At Welfare - November 2001

November 9, 2001
Prepared for Zenith Magazine
By Chaer Robert

A New Look at Welfare

No argument that far fewer families are on public assistance than five or ten years ago. But are they better off? In Colorado, only one in 5 families who left welfare earns above poverty level wages a year later. Median earnings immediately after leaving welfare were about $750. per month.

Soon Congress will reconsider the 1996 welfare law. Meanwhile, local advocates, led by Catholic Charities, have issued recommendations for changes:

Federal quotas on education should be lifted. The federal law allows only 20% of the parents on welfare to pursue education that can improve their employment odds.

The Federal 60 month lifetime limit should be lifted; the Federal 20% quota on hardship extensions should be lifted. The block grant is a flat amount. Why not let states decide how many families to exempt. The parent with a chronically ill or severely disabled child, a parent with learning disabilities or brain injury, a parent who also cares for elderly relatives will have difficulty finding and sustaining employment.

States, not the federal government, should define what should count as a work activity -- All families have to be "working" within two years. Activities like volunteerism, education, counseling, etc. should count.

Child support collections should go first to the family, rather than to reimburse the state for TANF expenses.

The Child Care Block Grant must be increased to meet current shortfalls

For more information, or a complete set of recommendations, contact Steffanie Clothier at 303-742-0823 x305 or sclothier@catholiccharitiesden.com