Panelists gathered in the Annenberg School for Communication yesterday afternoon to present their opinions and research on "The Impact of Welfare 'Reform' on Women and Children" to a crowd of about 60. The four panelists included Ruth Mayden, dean of the Bryn Mawr School of Social Work; Kathy Edin, a Sociology professor at Penn; Vivian Gadsden, Education professor and director of the National Center of Policy on Fathers and Families at Penn; and Lucy Hackney, senior advisor to the Office of Management and Workplace Programs at the U.S. General Services Administration. Mayden began by noting that a significant number of children in Philadelphia grow up without adequate education and resources. There are 390,000 children below the age of 17 in Philadelphia, 145,000 of whom currently receive cash assistance. In addition, 217,000 children are on medical assistance, she said. Mayden stressed that "welfare programs must concentrate on the causes of poverty." In the late 1980s, she explained, the government implemented many short-term solutions to poverty and welfare programs without identifying the causes and the real problems underlying the situation. "The real victims are the women and children," Mayden said. According to Edin, however, the "new system" of welfare reform is no more organized. Under the system, "states are making welfare reforms as they go along," she said, adding that "[states] invent [reform] six weeks at a time." Edin noted that "government officials don't understand how to make and implement reform." The new system, she explained, has also reduced cash benefits and instituted a greater number of quotas and deadlines for welfare recipients. Gadsden then focused on the role of fathers in welfare families. "States have no idea about welfare reform and even less of an idea regarding fathers [and welfare reform]," she said. Fathers face many barriers to being effective parents, including unemployment. Gadsden said that the states need to try to identify the problems fathers are exposed to and find strategies to overcome them. Hackney chose to focus her comments on the high cost of childcare "If we fail in childcare, we will make it impossible for mothers trying to leave welfare to succeed and will also make it impossible for children to succeed in school ? which then continues the cycle of welfare dependency," Hackney explained. College sophomore Edisa Gonzalez-Revilla, a member of Penn's Poverty Awareness Committee, which seeks to educate the Penn community about issues like welfare, responded to the speech by echoing the panel's criticisms of the welfare program. "There are shocking things going on with welfare," Gonzalez-Revilla explained. "Most of us don't know what's going on. It's our duty to find out and see what we can do about it." College junior Courtney Koslow added that "I feel I only know the negative side [of the issue].?But at the same time, there possibly is only this one side. Welfare reform as it is now is inadequate, which is frustrating."Comments powered by Disqus
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