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 firstname.lastname@example.org