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A recent General Accounting Office report on the progress of the welfare reform law passed two years ago found a sharp decline nationwide in the welfare rolls The number of people on welfare has fallen 37 percent to 89 million in March 1998 from 141 million in January 93 The report also found significant increases in the numbers of welfare recipients who obtained jobs Getting off welfare is one thing Getting out of poverty requires training and education Research shows that 85 percent of women on welfare who go to college and graduate get off and stay off welfare The more years of education they have the better the outlook is for their future By the year 2000 the vast majority of new jobs in the United States will require a postsecondary education The welfare reform law states that in order to keep welfare benefits people on welfare have to work 20 hours a week The federal law is clear however that going to college does not count as work The law must be changed I direct a program called the Womens College Assistance Project which helps women on welfare in the District go to college The project provides small academic-related grants and holds monthly meetings for information sharing and support Believe me having to pile 20 hours of work a week on top of child care housekeeping on a subsistence check and challenging college material puts an undue burden on the poorest of our population Women on welfare have had plenty of experience trying to support themselves and their children without depending on welfare Before welfare reform the stereotypical view was that of a large stagnant welfare population for whom welfare had become a way of life But the facts are that the welfare population was a mobile changing one Women cycled on and off welfare trying to make it on their own by working Because they couldnt
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