Welfare Reform's Children

Welfare reform is not simply about getting people off public support. It also helps people learn how to become more productive members of society. But what about the children of former welfare recipients? How are they faring?

Researchers from Yale and the University of California at Berkeley interviewed thousands of former welfare mothers in California, Florida, and Connecticut and found that two-thirds of them relied on relatives, friends, and babysitters for day-care while they were working.

Researchers say many of the children spent hours watching television, missing the more intellectually stimulating environment of day care, such as exposure to books and numbers.

And the study found that only half the eligible mothers in California and Florida took advantage of the federal aid available to the states to pay for child care. In Connecticut, it was a paltry 13 percent.

Those with low wages generally can't afford commercial child-care that can eat up half or more of take-home pay. States agencies aren't adequately spreading the word about the subsidy. And paperwork for signing up can be burdensome. Such problems need to be promptly straightened out.

Social-service providers and planners in communities also have to think hard about expanding child-care and finding innovative ways to attract capable people to this work.

For too long, child-care has been a national issue easily pushed into the corner. Welfare reform puts it front and center where it belongs.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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