PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Monday marks twenty years since the US ended one long-running social services experiment and started a new one. In 1996 President Bill Clinton signed into law a ‘welfare reform’ bill, and despite dire predictions, the reform measure performed well for many years.
Welfare reform gave states broad latitude over cash grants to the poor, known as TANF’s. In Pennsylvania, the state added job search rules over the years. Kristen Dama of Community Legal Services said it hinders access for the families most in need.READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Center City Hit-And-Run Leaves Woman In Critical Condition, Police Say
“For families who have zero income, there’s no access to child care, there’s no access to transportation that will facilitate this job search,” she said.READ MORE: 'This Is What We Do In A Small Town': Mullica Hill Residents Continue Recovery Efforts Weeks After Tornado
Dama said the number of people receiving welfare has dropped from nearly half-a-Million in 1996 to about 158-thousand now. But, she said, for too many, it’s not because they’ve entered the work force, but because they can’t get access to TANF’s.
“They can’t navigate this pre-application job search in a way that allows them to get on to the program,” she said.MORE NEWS: New Jersey Man Credits Keeping Mind Active As He Celebrates 105th Birthday
Dama recommends the state simplify rules, eliminate red tape and improve employment and training programs to help families leave welfare for work… not deep poverty.