Inside Iowa State
March 19, 1999
Forum set on welfare reform
by Kevin Brown
A strong economy is helping people on welfare find work, but that doesn't necessarily translate into good paying jobs with opportunities for advancement.
This was among the preliminary findings of a continuing study being conducted by faculty in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. The findings will be discussed during a March 23 public forum called "Welfare Reform in Iowa: Welfare or Poverty Reduction?"
The study profiles five families in each of seven communities (Cedar Rapids, Mount Ayr, Fort Madison, Manchester, Hampton, Marshalltown and Storm Lake). Other preliminary findings show:
The ongoing study began in 1997.
- Employers, especially those in rural areas, have little understanding of their roles in getting people off welfare and into the workforce.
- Iowa cities need to focus on improving their livability rather than on industrial and business recruitment. Livability refers to a wage earner's ability to be at an economic level above the qualification for welfare or other support services.
- Several auxiliary issues affect the ability of a parent to move off welfare permanently, including benefits, job flexibility, workplace climate and adequate childcare.
The forum will be opened by Shirley Zimmerman, this year's Dean Helen LeBaron Hilton Chair. Zimmerman is a professor at the University of Minnesota and a noted scholar on welfare reform issues, especially in the Midwestern states. She will provide historical and political background about the current movement on welfare reform.
A panel of state and local policy makers will discuss welfare issues and answer audience questions. Members of the panel will be Scott Miller, Ames Beyond Welfare project; and state senators Elaine Szymoniak (D-Des Moines) and Johnie Hammond (D-Ames), who is on the Iowa Senate Human Resources Committee.
The forum will be from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Memorial Union Pioneer Room. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Cindy Needles-Fletcher, 4-8521.
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