Women's Show - Budget Cuts Hurt Women and Children

03/27/04

DEBORAH CUTLER ORTIZ, Director of Family Income for the CHILDREN'S DEFENSE FUND, regarding the statement she issued in response to a New York Times article about the declining number of welfare recipients: "Today the New York Times reported that welfare rolls shrank over the last three years even during a sluggish economy. This counter intuitive finding is not a cause to rejoice. The reasons behind the decline in welfare caseloads are complex. It is clear that not everyone leaving the welfare rolls has found gainful employment…. Many indicators suggest that families are struggling economically. Child poverty has increased significantly since 2000. According to the latest data, 12.1 million children live in poverty - 800,000 more than in 2000. Three million single mothers had no work in 2003, and 550,000 children are on waiting lists for child care. Forty percent of the homeless population is made up of families with children. The situation is also bleak for the working poor. We have seen a significant increase in those requesting emergency food assistance: 39 percent are employed families with children. As members of Congress look to reauthorize welfare legislation, they should be more concerned about creating jobs and easing poverty instead of looking to superficial measurements like drops in the welfare rolls. The working poor need supports like education and training, child care and transportation. To call welfare reform a success takes more than just reducing the welfare rolls. We should not rest until all families are no longer living in poverty."

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