Catholic Charities: Tie Welfare Reform to Jobs

Article excerpt

Catholic Charities USA, the nation's largest private social-services network, said January 27 that welfare reform must be linked to adequately paying jobs in order to succeed. "We need welfare reform, but we need to do it right," commented Fred Kammer, president of the national arm of the network of some 1,400 Catholic agencies and institutions. "Everyone agrees that we want to move people from welfare to work, but we can't do that unless we have the jobs."

Kammer made his comments as Catholic Charities released a 24-page position paper outlining the network's stance on proposals to reform the nation's system of aid to the poor. Welfare reform, along with crime and health care, is expected to dominate social-policy debate in the coming year. In his State of the Union address January 25, President Clinton told Congress that it is "imperative" to. work on health care and welfare reform at the same time. Religious groups have already been gearing up for the debate.

In June, in an unprecedented interfaith event, the National Council of Churches, the Synagogue Council of America and the U.S. Catholic Conference joined together in issuing a "Call to the Common Ground for the Common Good," calling for "fundamental" reform and modernization of the nation,s social-welfare policy from infancy to old age. A host of ecumenical and denominational agencies from across the religious spectrum, such as Church Women United and the American Jewish Committee, have since testified before the task force preparing the details of Clinton's plan.

It is expected that the heart of the Clinton proposal will be a strict twoyear limit on benefits for AFDC clients. AFDC---Aid to Families with Dependent Children--is the principal benefits program for the poor, aiding single mothers and their children. …