Free Newsletter
Register for our Free Newsletters
Advanced Composites
Amorphous Metal Structures
Analysis and Simulation
Asbestos and Substitutes
Associations, Research Organisations and Universities
Automation Equipment
Building Materials
Bulk Handling and Storage
CFCs and Substitutes
View All
Other Carouselweb publications
Carousel Web
Defense File
New Materials
Pro Health Zone
Pro Manufacturing Zone
Pro Security Zone
Web Lec
Pro Engineering Zone

Welfare reform shows few gains for young children

Yale University : 10 April, 2006  (New Product)
The slight economic gains felt by millions of single mothers, who have moved off welfare and into low-wage jobs, have not discernibly improved the living conditions of families or the daily lives of young children, according to a report to be released in Washington today.
This new evidence was collected from families between 1998-2000 by leading scholars based at Yale, the University of California, and Columbia and Stanford universities.

After following over 700 single mothers for up to four years after entering new welfare programs in California, Connecticut and Florida, the study team confirmed earlier findings that a majority of mothers have successfully found jobs. Yet, low wages coupled with high job turnover means that few families climbed above the poverty line, with the average mother earning just over $13,000 per year.

Few women could afford to move into better neighborhoods, one in six were still visiting food banks, one-fifth lived in roach-infested housing, two in five continued to suffer from emotional depression. And these features of children's home settings failed to improve over time, even as mothers' employment rates climbed.

'We discovered that moving women into low-wage jobs is simply no guarantee that families will be better off or that young children will grow up in more nurturing homes,' said study co-director and UC Berkeley professor, Bruce Fuller.

While political leaders generally have celebrated the precipitous fall in welfare caseloads, from 5 million in 1994 to 2.1 million late last year, little has been known about how young children are faring as their single mothers spend less time at home and more time in the labor force.

'Given that America wants children who are ready for school, it's time we get realistic about what helps or hinders that, and welfare reform is a significant and far too-frequently neglected part of that picture' said study co-author, Sharon Lynn Kagan, an international expert, professor of child and family policy at Columbia University and senior research scientist and professor in Yale's department of psychology and the Child Study Center.

These findings, stemming from the first national look at how toddlers and preschoolers have fared since then-President Clinton 'ended welfare as we knew it', arrive as the White House is floating proposals to provide incentives for marriage, to double work requirements for mothers, and to put more women to work. More broadly, the President signaled a wider focus on boosting overall family well-being and child development in announcing his welfare reform proposals in February, but few specifics related to young children have been provided.

After interviewing women twice over two years, visiting their homes, assessing children, and compiling economic data, the researchers could detect few improvements in parenting practices, such as reading with their children or setting regular meal times, nor could discernible gains be observed in mothers' affection toward their children. Two to four years since entering work-first programs, mothers continued to face tough everyday challenges of having enough money to meet the rent or buy enough food for their toddlers.

The amount of television viewing did go up for young children, except for those youngsters who entered child care centers or preschools. For youngsters in child care centers or preschool, this may be an indirect benefit of welfare reform, according to the authors: less reliance on TV and more opportunity for active learning experiences.

The authors note that many proponents of welfare reform argued in 1996 that employed mothers would offer stronger role models and provide a higher standard of living.

One encouraging finding is that toddlers who entered child care centers over the past two years, representing one-third of those studied, displayed higher levels of emerging literacy skills, compared to those who did not enter center-based programs. And children entering higher-quality centers displayed even steeper learning curves.

'Child care hassles remain a high hurdle as women try to move from welfare to work,' said the study's Florida co-director, Jan McCarthy. 'Two in five mothers reported that they had quit a job, or passed up a new job, due to the lack of affordable child care options.'

The study revealed several unanticipated effects of welfare reform. In Connecticut, for example, women participating in the state's Jobs First program showed a lower marriage rate three years after entry, compared to a control group that faced less pressure to work.

'These women, many of whom found jobs and enjoyed gains in net income, appear to be taking the idea of self-reliance quite seriously,' said Jude Carroll, the Connecticut site coordinator. 'Such findings need to be factored into the Bush proposal that asks Congress for $300 million to experiment with incentives for single women who get married.'
Bookmark and Share
Home I Editor's Blog I News by Zone I News by Date I News by Category I Special Reports I Directory I Events I Advertise I Submit Your News I About Us I Guides
   © 2012
Netgains Logo