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BTL:Poor Families Likely to Lose as Congress Debates Reauthorization of...

...Welfare Reform Act. Interview with Debbie Weinstein, Children's Defense Fund conducted by Melinda Tuhus.Confrontations.Interview with Peter Kornbluh, of the National Security Archive conducted by Between The Lines' Denise Manzari
Poor Families Likely to Lose as Congress Debates Reauthorization of Welfare Reform Act

Interview with Debbie Weinstein, Children's Defense Fund conducted by Melinda Tuhus.

The 1996 federal welfare reform law ended 60 years of "welfare as we knew it." It created a five-year lifetime limit on support to poor families and gave the states a lot of leeway to design programs and establish income levels.Five years after the legislation was signed into law by President Clinton, the number of people on welfare in the U.S. has dropped by half.

Advocates for the poor say the law has pushed women into low-wage, dead-end jobs, many without adequate day care for their young children or health care. And while supporters of the law claim the 50 percent drop in caseloads is proof that reform is working, critics counter that these statistics prove only that the law is effective at cutting people from the welfare rolls.

The welfare reform law, set to expire on Sept. 30, was scheduled for reauthorization this year, but President Bush signed a stop-gap measure to continue funding through Dec. 30. Meanwhile, the House has passed a bill that requires women on welfare to work a minimum of 40 hours a week to receive benefits while providing minimal child-care and negligible funds for training. The Senate is working on its own less severe version, which mandates a 30-hour a week work requirement, counts education toward work hours and provides more funds for child care.

Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Debbie Weinstein, director of the Family Income division with the Childrens' Defense Fund, about the critical issues facing poor families and changes to welfare legislation her group is advocating.

Contact the Fund by calling (202) 628-8787 or visit their Web site at:

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