OHIO PROGRAM HELPS BREAK HOLD OF WELFARE
PITTSBURGH — * Here's a novel way to reduce welfare dependency.
Several cities are getting fathers of welfare families to pay their child support. Unemployed dads get a temporary waiver if they go through training to find employment. The Monitor profiled one such program in Dayton, Ohio, last April. According to a report released today, these initiatives show promise.
In its two-year, nine-city study, the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) found that:
* These Parents' Fair Share programs smoked out nearly 1 in 5 fathers who admitted that they were working and began to pay up.
* A somewhat larger minority were pursued by the courts.
* Most of the fathers - nearly two-thirds - went through the training.
* It not only helped them find a job, it changed some attitudes.
``They learned that paying child support is one part of what they need to do,'' says Gordon Berlin, senior vice president at MDRC.
The Dayton, Ohio, program has turned up 363 deadbeat fathers, trained another 430, and found jobs for nearly a third of its trainees.
Administrator Dannetta Graves estimates that her program will mean an extra $633,000 in fathers' wages flowing to local welfare families. Some $270,000 has already been collected.
The program's biggest payoff, however, may be its impact on individual lives.
Charles Roy Strickland Jr., quoted in last April's Monitor story, has moved from on-the-job training to a full-time position with the local housing authority. His peers voted him ``Father of the Year'' last fall.
The ``Life Reversal of the Year'' award went to a former drug dealer. Harrison Sampson, another Monitor interviewee, now has a steady job at a county incinerator.
``There's nothing like success,'' Ms. Graves says. ``If we do as well as we have and continue to improve, we think we can make this program pay for itself.''