Is welfare reform working? Yes, according to a group of corporate and academic leaders who today called the 1996 reforms a "profound change in strategy" from "check cutting to career planning." But the Committee for Economic Development's (CED) newest report, "Welfare Reform and Beyond: Making Work Work," strongly urges business and political leaders to "complete. welfare reform" and improve our society's transition from welfare to work.
Real reform will be achieved, CED argues, only when the welfare system becomes a "sustainable vehicle" for finding and maintaining employment and reducing poverty. CED's report recommends ways the public and private sector can offer struggling families the incentives and support necessary to work their way out of poverty. CED's report presents a detailed analysis of data from the first four years of welfare reform and calls on the federal, state, and local governments to:
* Extend comprehensive services to support work, including career-readiness programs, job-placement assistance, childcare, transportation, and health insurance.
* Maintain funding for work-support initiatives even as welfare caseloads decline.
* Prepare for economic downturns with "rainy day" reserves.
* Create financial incentives for the working poor, including lower state income taxes for families in poverty, expanded unemployment insurance for low-wage, seasonal or part-time work, and more accessible Medicaid, Food Stamp, and EITC benefits.
* Offer employment options, ranging from short-term, transitional public service jobs to unsubsidized private employment. …