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Iris J. Lav
Board of Directors
David de Ferranti, Chair
John R. Kramer, Vice Chair
Henry J. Aaron
Barbara B. Blum
Marian Wright Edelman
James O. Gibson
Beatrix Hamburg, M.D.
Richard P. Nathan
Robert D. Reischauer
Juan Sepulveda, Jr.
William Julius Wilson
CUTTING WELFARE REFORM PROGRAMS;
Many states are making significant cuts in their welfare and child care programs, a new Center study finds, including programs to help families move from welfare to work. Even deeper cuts could be in store if the legislation Congress is crafting to renew the 1996 welfare law imposes new requirements on states but does not provide the new money needed to help meet these requirements.
Among the programs states are cutting are those that provide child care for low-income working families, help welfare recipients find jobs, or fight teen pregnancy. Programs to help the most disadvantaged families, such as those facing eviction or with drug abuse problems, also have been cut.
At least 15 states have scaled back efforts to help welfare recipients improve their skills and find jobs or are proposing to do so. At least 32 states have made or are proposing measures to make child care less accessible, either by making certain families ineligible, creating waiting lists, increasing co-payments, or reducing provider payments. At least 11 states have cut, or are proposing to cut, assistance to families with the most severe problems.
State Cuts Raise the Stakes of Federal Welfare Legislation
Little public attention has been paid to the state cuts despite their
implications for ongoing deliberations over a new welfare bill. A bill the
House passed earlier this year would force states to spend an extra $6
billion to $9 billion over the next five years to meet tighter work
requirements for welfare recipients, according to the Congressional
“States already are being forced to weaken the very programs that are
critical to welfare reform’s success,” stated
One reason for the state cuts is that most states have used up most or all of their leftover federal welfare funds from prior years. Another reason is the budget crisis most states now face. That crisis is leading states to cut other programs as well: some 1.7 million low-income individuals will lose health coverage if Medicaid cuts being made or considered in 22 states are enacted, according to a recent Center report. (See https://www.cbpp.org/archiveSite/3-20-03sfp.htm.)
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The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization and policy institute that conducts research and analysis on a range of government policies and programs. It is supported primarily by foundation grants.