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1999 January - February

The Effect of Welfare Reform on Immigrant Children

By Gillian Dutton

Welfare reform's changes in immigration laws—aimed at working-age adults—may have a lasting effect on immigrant children in the United States. By familiarizing themselves with the most common barriers to assistance and ways to overcome them, advocates can help immigrant children access the benefits they need to lead better lives.

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The Unnecessary Tragedy of Fatherless Children

Welfare Reform's Opportunities for Reversing Public Policies That Drove Low-Income Fathers out of Their Children's Lives

By Margaret Stapleton

Recent welfare law changes offer opportunities for assisting low-income fathers in their efforts to escape poverty and reconnect with their children. After decades of neglect of and even hostility toward low-income fathers, adoption of public policies and programs that support fathers' efforts to be part of their children's lives would benefit parents, children, and society.

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Housing for Families with Children and the New Welfare System

By David B. Bryson

Just when their situation could not get much worse, families in public and assisted housing were dealt another blow in 1998 when Congress passed legislation allowing landlords to favor as tenants families of moderate income. The upshot is that children may lose housing when welfare's time limits hit and before then if sanctions are imposed, even when barriers make it impossible to find and keep a job. Housing providers, however, can help families make a successful transition out of poverty.

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The Dedicated Account Rules

Retroactive Supplemental Security Income Benefits for Disabled Children

By Richard P. Weishaupt, Jonathan M. Stein & Robert J. Lukens

Congress restricted, as part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, the spending of retroactive Supplemental Security Income benefits paid on behalf of disabled children. Because such a revised standard for spending restricts parental decision making to a considerable degree, clients need to be warned of new rules like this before they misuse or misapply funds. Parents and advocates should also be aware that Social Security Administration field offices are often applying the new rules incorrectly and too restrictively.

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Maintaining Health Services for Children amid Welfare Confusion

The Importance of Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment

By Jane Perkins

Under the Medicaid Act, poor children and youth are entitled to receive comprehensive medical and behavioral screening and treatment services through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment program. Although the program was not directly affected by welfare reform, many children who lost cash assistance benefits because of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act are not applying for Medicaid and as a consequence are losing access to the program. Advocates can assist their clients by enhancing their own understanding of how the program works and realizing that it is itself a fragile benefit.

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The New Children's Health Insurance Program

Early Implementation and Issues for Special Populations

By Abigail English

The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 gave states options to provide essential health care to children and adolescents from low-income families without health insurance. While almost every state has submitted a children's health insurance program plan, advocates may find significant opportunities for developing the plans to make them more effective and perhaps to help fill some gaps left by welfare reform.

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Teens and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant Program

By Martha Matthews

As a particularly vulnerable population, teen parents and other teens in low-income families may be adversely affected by welfare reform initiatives. In addition to documenting the effect of welfare reform on teens, advocates need to ensure that welfare programs fairly address the special needs of teens regarding living arrangements, school attendance and performance requirements, welfare-to-work programs, child support enforcement, and other issues.

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Teen Parents and Welfare Reform Policy

By April Kaplan

As a result of welfare reform, teen parents are subject to many new laws, regulations, and restrictions. States are mandating school attendance, requiring teenage mothers to live in adult-supervised settings, and focusing on teen parents in welfare-to-work programs. Certain policy considerations should be taken into account by states when developing initiatives for teen parents, and innovative programs implemented by various states and communities have successfully served teen parents.

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Assessing the Effect of Welfare Reform on Child Welfare

By Martha Matthews

Advocates are beginning to examine the implications of welfare reform for child welfare systems and the children and families involved with those systems. Even in the absence of much concrete data on changes in child welfare systems, welfare reform raises serious questions about support for kinship caregivers, teen parent policies, and help for families with substance abuse problems. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program may increase poor families' involvement with the child welfare system; advocates are analyzing emerging issues relating to welfare-to-work requirements, child care, sanctions, and family reunification and are developing strategies for addressing these problems.

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Welfare Reform and Child Care

Needs of Families Living with Domestic Violence

By Alice Bussiere & Roslyn Powell

One of the many effects of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was the creation of a tremendous demand for child care. Battered women and children exposed to domestic violence have special child care needs not shared by other families. Safe, affordable, and appropriate child care is essential for a successful transition from welfare to work. The key to addressing the child care needs of poor families victimized by domestic violence is greater dialogue and collaboration between child care providers, domestic violence programs, and local advocates.

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Child Care in the Postwelfare Reform Era

Analysis and Strategies for Advocates

By Jo Ann C. Gong, Alice Bussiere, Jennifer Light, Rebecca Scharf, Marc Cohan & Sherry Leiwant

Imposing work requirements on cash assistance recipients and not guaranteeing them child care can create a crisis for families. Advocates can find ways to improve access to child care and ensure that poor parents relying on cash assistance do not suffer sanctions if they cannot find child care for their young children.

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