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Welfare & Poverty

Welfare Issues Guide
Economic Policy Institute (www.epi.org)
Fact sheets, publications and other resources. Index in HTML

Children and Welfare Reform: Executive Summary
The Future of Children Report (www.futureofchildren.org). Winter/Spring 2002. “The law’s emphasis on moving mothers from welfare to work, although a good first step, does not guarantee positive outcomes for children. Research shows that children do best when their families achieve increased employment and income, when they live in low-conflict households with the love and support of both parents, and when they spend time in high-quality child care and after-school activities.” Executive Summary in PDF or HTML. The full report is also available in both PDF and HTML formats from the Future of Children web site.

Life After Welfare Reform:
Low-Income Single Parent Families, Pre- and Post-TANF

Janice Peterson, Xue Song, and Avis Jones-DeWeever. Institute for Women’s Policy Research (www.iwpr.org). May 02. IWPR Publication #D446. “While the participation of many low-income single parents in the labor market increases, their earnings and wages remain low; and, their employment is concentrated in low-wage occupations and industries.” Issue brief in PDF

Staying employed after welfare:
Work supports and job quality vital to employment tenure and wage growth

Heather Boushey, The Economic Policy Institute (www.epi.org). Jun 02. “Real wage growth and long-term employment work together. People who remain consistently employed over time are more likely to experience real wage increases. But, causality runs both ways: those who start off at higher wages are more likely to stay employed. Remaining employed over time usually indicates higher starting wages and results in real wage increases. This relationship is especially important in the low-wage labor market.” Executive summary in HTML

Women’s Work Supports, Job Retention, and Job Mobility:
Child Care and Employer-Provided Health Insurance Help Women Stay on Jobs

Sunhwa Lee, PhD, Institute for Women’s Policy Research (www.iwpr.org). Nov 04. This issue brief suggests that greater access to employer-provided health insurance and affordable, reliable child care— especially for mothers with children under age six— would decrease the employment instability of low-income working women. Briefing paper in PDF

Welfare Reform Should Help Women Striving
To Support Their Families, Not Hold Them Back

National Women’s Law Center (www.nwlc.org). Feb 03. “Many women have left welfare for work since the 1996 welfare law was passed, but most can find only unstable, low-wage jobs that do not enable them to lift their families out of poverty. When Congress reauthorizes the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, it should help women achieve long-term self-sufficiency by building on what we have learned over the last five years about what works.” 6 pages, in PDF

Working Moms in a Bind
Heather Boushey, Center for American Progress. From AlterNet (www.alternet.org). Mar 04. “Finding a job, however, is not enough to ensure that former welfare recipients are successful off welfare. What made the difference for many welfare mothers was the increased availability of child care and health care that were a part of welfare reform. Since most former welfare recipients found jobs that did not offer health insurance and since child care is critical for working mothers, these work supports often made the difference between keeping a job and not.” Full article in HTML

Welfare, Women, and Health:
The Role of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Kaiser Family Foundation (www.kff.org). Apr 03. “Compared to higher income women, more than twice as many women under 200 percent of poverty reported experiencing “fair” or “poor” health in 2001, and more than twice as many reported health limitations that reduced participation in school, work, housework, or other activities in the past year. Nearly one-half of TANF recipients report either “poor” general health or “poor” mental health… Almost 40 percent of long-term TANF .reported “very poor” health.” Issue brief in PDF

Children in Single-Parent Families Living in Poverty
Have Fewer Supports after Welfare Reform

Deanna M. Lyter, Melissa Sills, and Gi-Taik Oh. Institute for Women’s Policy Research (www.iwpr.org). IWPR Publication #D451. Sept 02. Since welfare reform, impoverished children in single-parent families receive less aid than under the previous system and the most disadvantaged of these children have slipped deeper into poverty. Issue brief in PDF

Feminist Perspectives on TANF Reauthorization:
An Introduction to Key Issues for the Future of Welfare Reform

Janice Peterson, Ph.D. Institute for Women’s Policy Research (www.iwpr.org). IWPR #E511. Jan 02. “Beginning in the 1970s, welfare reform discussions became increasingly focused on moving welfare recipients into paid work, with the increasing labor force participation of middle- and upper-income mothers with young children often invoked as the rationale for this policy focus. This argument has been fraught with contradiction, with many of the most passionate supporters of the notion that “welfare mothers” should work outside the home also being the most vocal proponents of policies that facilitate the ability of middle- and upper-income mothers to choose to stay home with their young children. This argument also ignores some important aspects of mothers’ labor force participation. For example, while the labor force participation of married mothers has increased dramatically, and married mothers often make critically important contributions to family incomes, the vast majority of married mothers in the United States are not the sole breadwinners for their families, which is essentially what is now being asked of poor single mothers.” Briefing paper in HTML

Women’s eNews series on women and welfare
An exceptional multi-part series on women and welfare from Women’s eNews (www.womensenews.org). Aug/Sept 2004. All articles are in HTML

Law Drops Moms in Deeper Poverty
By Jennifer Friedlin, Run Date: 08/06/04
“In 1996, the federal program that provided cash aid to impoverished families--90 percent of whom were headed by single mothers--changed dramatically. This is the first of a five part series that takes a long, hard look at welfare as it functions now.”

Child Care Promises Fall Through
By Jennifer Friedlin, 08/13/04
“When the federal welfare program was restructured in 1996, the government promised to provide child care to single parents required to take jobs outside the home. Often, however, that promise is not being kept and families pay the price.”

Child Support Cash Kept by States
By Jennifer Friedlin, 08/22/04
“Diverse groups agree that more state-collected child-support payments should go directly to families rather than refilling welfare coffers. Action on the popular reform, however, remains pinned under a large and stymied reauthorization bill.”

Services for Abused Women Scarce
By Jennifer Friedlin, 08/27/04
“Most states have adopted The Family Violence Option, which waives welfare work requirements for up to a year in cases of domestic violence. But advocates say too few states are aggressively implementing the option.”

Block Grants Starve State Budgets
By Jennifer Friedlin, Run Date: 09/03/04
“The federal government funds welfare with so-called block grants to states, which have not been raised since 1996 and provide no adjustment for inflation. Even though programs are getting pinched, no increase is on the horizon.”

Belva Elliott, Mother of Five, Speaks
By Belva Elliott, 09/02/04
“Belva Elliott chronicles her experiences as a married victim of domestic violence who seeks safety and turns to welfare for assistance. Accompanied by a photo essay.”

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Women & Poverty (see also Low Income Families)

Reading Between the Lines:
Women’s Poverty in the United States 2003

Legal Momentum (www.legalmomentum.org). Oct 2004. This report cites a recent study showing that the United States has the highest rates of poverty for female-headed households among 22 peer nations (30.9 percent in the U.S. as opposed to a 10.5 percent average for the comparison group). Summary in PDF

When Violence Hits Home:
How Economics and Neighborhood Play a Role

Michael J. Benson and Greer Litton Fox, The National Institute of Justice (www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/). Sept 2004. Violence against women in intimate relationships occurred more often and was more severe in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. Women living in disadvantaged neighborhoods were more than twice as likely to be victims of domestic violence than women living more advantaged neighborhoods. Full report in PDF

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