The Common Good

Child Care Cuts Force Parents Back on Welfare

With middle-class families mostly worrying about how they are surviving this Great Recession, and with the political leaders who want their votes aiming spins at them, there hasn't been much attention paid to how low-income families are doing. Poverty usually doesn't make the news, even in a recession.

But poor and already vulnerable mothers and children are being hard hit by budget cuts to child care assistance, leaving working parents without child-care help, making them lose their jobs, and forcing them back onto welfare. Most don't want to do that, and were hopeful about a better future. But without any support for child care, they have no way to take care of their children and are being forced back onto the welfare rolls.

One mother explained the dilemma:

It's a blow to my own self-image and self-worth as a person who can take care of myself. I'm totally able, physically and intellectually, to continue working. But I can't work without child care, and I can't afford child care without work.

It's one more consequence of the recession and the subsequent budget cuts governments are making. The progress of helping families move from welfare to work is being reversed. This is not what we want to see happen to the many single moms with kids who were working hard to build a better life.

portrait-jim-wallisJim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street -- A Moral Compass for the New Economy, CEO of Sojourners and blogs at www.godspolitics.com.

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