Debate on Welfare Reform Focuses on Mothers' Role

AS it drafts its plan to rebuild the welfare system, the Clinton administration must decide when a mother on welfare should be required to leave her newborn baby in day care and get a job. The issue raises questions of fairness from working women, who already must leave their children in day care to support their families.

But it also raises questions about the wisdom of separating very young children from their mothers, especially if it means spending long hours in substandard day care and coming home to a parent too tired to provide the stimulation and nurturing a child needs for healthy development.

Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, speaking Wednesday to an Urban Institute conference on welfare reform, said the administration is still wrestling with the issue.

``As a feminist, I have found the decision to be profoundly difficult for me, but I have come down on the side of women getting into the work force in a reasonable period of time, women that have young children, because that is essentially what's happening in the economy,'' she said.

But a report issued Tuesday by the Carnegie Corporation, a New York philanthropy, said many of the nation's 12 million infants and toddlers receive poor quality child care, which can put their development at risk.

Meanwhile, conservative Republicans William Bennett, Jack Kemp, and Vin Weber criticized in a memo Wednesday the welfare reform plan backed by House Republicans for not attempting to curtail out-of-wedlock births. The three believe welfare is illegitimacy's ``economic life line'' and that mothers under age 21 who have children out of wedlock should be ineligible for welfare benefits.``The central issue is people having babies out of wedlock - babies are coming into this world with no fathers, with ill-prepared mothers,'' Mr. Bennett said. Request for US bombing

BOSNIAN Vice President Ejup Ganic wants the Clinton administration to bomb roads and bridges that are supply routes for weapons to Serb forces from Belgrade.

Opening three days of talks here Wednesday, Mr. Ganic praised the United States for bombing raids on Serb positions near Gorazde and said the use of force reflected the unique morality of the American people.

``I am very, very pleased with recent moves by the Americans,'' Ganic said. ``They demonstrated that morality and legality will go in parallel with national interests.''

A United Nations arms embargo is supposed to deny weapons to all sides in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. But Ganic said Serbia was providing weapons to Bosnian Serbs and called for NATO bombing raids to slow the flow.

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