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The following was taken from a press release from "Call to Renewal", an inter-faith group of churches and faith based organization working on poverty issues. It was posted in the email list associated with Sojourner's Magazine (a justice and peace magazine published by evangelical Christians).

WELFARE REFORM LEAVING MANY BEHIND

In recent months, reports from across the nation are painting a clearer picture of the impact welfare reform is having on those most directly affected by the year-old changes in social policy. Taken together, the various studies and summaries do not offer a good review of the end of welfare as we know it.

In a December commentary in Business Week, Associate Editor Aaron Bernstein wrote about "...an early warning sign of what could be a disaster in the making. A year after Congress passed its overhaul of the nation's welfare system, there's increasing evidence that millions of single mothers and immigrant families are being driven further into poverty."

Reports from the states verify this prediction:

- In Delaware half the families subject to one of the nation's first welfare reform plans did not meet the law's requirements and were sanctioned financially.

- Federal statistics show that in one three-month period in 1997, 38 percent of the recipients who left welfare did so because of state sanctions.

- More than half of the cases closed in Indiana in a three-month period last year were a result of sanctions.

- 40 percent of the families leaving welfare in Tennessee in the first year of its new welfare program left as a result of failure to comply with regulations, compared with 29 percent who left for employment.

- New York City reported that only 29 percent of those leaving welfare found full-time or part-time employment.

- Preliminary USDA reports show that Food Stamp Program participation dropped by approximately 4 million persons between September 1996 and September 1997.

- Second Harvest, the nation's largest network of food banks, reported a 10 to 35 percent increase in demand for food assistance among its 11,240 agencies.

- The International Union of Gospel Missions reported that 20 percent of those checking into rescue missions have become homeless because of the loss of government benefits in the past year.

- The U.S. Conference of Mayors reported a 12 percent increase in demand for space at homeless shelters.

- In a 34-city survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, 92 percent reported a shortfall of low-skill jobs to allow compliance with the welfare law's work participation requirement.

- The Center on Hunger and Poverty at Tufts University released a national study in February that assessed whether newly-adopted state policies are designed to achieve the central goal of the 1996 federal law: improving the economic conditions of welfare recipients. The study found "The majority of states are failing to make investments to improve the economic well-being of recipient families; welfare programs created in over two-thirds of the states (35) diminish the economic security of poor households; and only 14 states have adopted policies that are likely to improve the financial conditions of the poor."

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