Statement of Shay Bilchik in Response to the House Passage of Welfare Reform

Child Welfare League of America
Thursday, 16 May 2002

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives lost an opportunity to help lift America's children and families out of poverty. With the passage of H.R. 4737, the welfare reform bill, the House failed to give families the tools they need to successfully move from welfare to work. Although the bill increases work requirements for single mothers to 40 hours per week, it provides no meaningful increases in federal child care funding. Current funding levels provide child care for only one of seven eligible children.

Families need good, quality child care, education, and training to get better jobs. They may also need help to move beyond barriers to employment like substance abuse, physical and mental disabilities, and literacy.

Although well intentioned, this measure actually creates roadblocks to permanent employment for struggling families. If we are serious about helping low income families find and keep permanent jobs that will lift them and their children out of poverty, we must provide more child care. If we are serious about improving the well-being of America's children and ensuring they enter school ready to learn, we must provide better quality child care.

There are more than 11 million children still living in poverty. Welfare reform is an opportunity to make children a national priority by investing in child care while at the same time, helping parents out of poverty through work, education, and additional work supports.

We hope the Senate will not let this opportunity pass when it considers its version of the welfare reform bill.

Established in 1920, the Child Welfare League of America is the nation's oldest and largest membership-based child welfare organization. Headquartered in Washington, DC, CWLA strives to advance sound public policy in behalf of the more than three million abused, neglected, and vulnerable children served by its 1,170 public and private member agencies. To further its mission of preserving, protecting, and promoting the well-being of all children and families, CWLA conducts research, develops standards of best practice, hosts regional and national conferences, provides comprehensive, field-based consultation and professional development services, and is the largest publisher of child welfare materials in North America.

For more information, or to contact Child Welfare League of America, see their website at: www.cwla.org

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