Children Not Hurt If Welfare Moms Work, Study Finds

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Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Low-income preschoolers and young teens are not negatively affected if their mothers go to work, according to a new federal study whose results bolster the argument to demand welfare mothers work more hours.

The new study "provides reassurance that mothers may leave welfare and enter the job market without harmful effects to their preschoolers or young adolescents," said Dr. Duane Alexander, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which funded more than half of the $20 million study.

The results, published in today's issue of Science, are a departure from earlier studies that found that teenage children of welfare mothers do worse in school when their mothers work.

Young teens reacted positively to their mothers going to work and showed more anxiety only if their mothers were not working, and preschoolers appeared to be unaffected, whether their mothers went on welfare, left welfare or entered or left the work force, researchers found.

The 1996 welfare-reform law, which required welfare mothers to work 20 hours a week, is up for renewal. A House bill passed last month would require welfare mothers to work 24 hours a week, plus spend 16 hours a week in constructive activities such as education, training or counseling.

The lack of harmful effects on the preschoolers may be because "the positive and negative aspects of going off welfare or getting a job may cancel each other out," said P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, lead author of the study, which was conducted with researchers from Northwestern University, Johns Hopkins University and Boston College. …