Reform doesn’t meet needs

I applaud Evalina Martin’s Oct. 27 letter to the editor on the state welfare system (“State welfare system: Punishes working parents”). Her story is shared by the rising single household homes with young children. Simply stated, the welfare reform program created haphazard programs that lagged behind with its primary goals.

The welfare reform failed to address the short term, imminent needs for single working women and their children. I have a hard time conceptualizing that it would take a wage-earner $12 an hour at a full time job in order to survive – and that figure is based on research done two years ago. As it stands, subsistence by these families remains unremarkable as they continue to struggle with today’s economic demands.

It’s common knowledge that women earn less than their male counterparts. Low-income women’s wage potential is further exacerbated by lack of skills, training and education. It’s difficult to conceptualize the rationale behind Clinton’s 2001 budget proposal to raise the minimum wage by $1 (for a two-year period). This is tantamount to bottom-scraping resources.

The forecast calls for a continuous rise in child care costs and there appears to be no immediate alternatives, despite the state’s minimal subsidized payment contribution to child care providers.

If the intent here is to lift these single women above the poverty line and at the same time increase quality parent-child time and relationships, then the goal was obviously missed or grossly misidentified with its implementation.

What is needed are more innovative, practical programs tailored to provide higher educational opportunities and vocational training to meet today’s modern, technological society. The state must think long and hard before allocating money to other programs. Longer term, quality child care and financial aid are necessary so that the single mothers can lift themselves out of poverty and give their children a head start in building their future.

Irena Fajardo


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