NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Forgotten in the Reforms: Welfare Fathers

April 25, 2002

The many successes of welfare reform are generally known and widely praised. Caseloads have dropped by half and child-poverty rates have fallen significantly. But those successes largely involve mothers who were on welfare.

What about the unmarried fathers -- whose potential child support payments could lift former welfare families out of poverty?

  • During the past 20 years, the proportion of young black men with a high school degree or less who are employed has slipped from 62 percent to 52 percent.
  • Even during the economic boom of the past seven years, the employment rate for those men barely rose.
  • At the same time, the unemployment rate for similarly educated black women jumped from 37 percent to 52 percent.

It has been suggested that Congress expand work programs to include men. But women's groups who lobby on behalf of welfare mothers are opposed -- fearing that resources spent on poor men won't be spent on poor mothers.

Several proven paths exist for providing job training to young men with low education levels, experts report. They point to the non-profit Welfare-to-Work Partnerships program being run in five cities.

A Miami program, for instance, trained and placed 108 men -- one-third of whom had criminal records. The one-year track record shows 83 percent on them still on the job.

Source: Editorial, "Welfare 'Reform' Threatens to Leave Dads Behind," USA Today, April 24, 2002.


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