Job training promised as key part of Clinton's welfare reform Governors are told that welfare clients will be moved off rolls after two years

February 03, 1993|By Boston Globe

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton has told the nation's governors that his administration will develop a proposal to train most poor people for jobs and to push them off the welfare rolls into public or private employment after two years of drawing welfare benefits.

"Welfare should be a second chance, not a way of life," Mr. Clinton said, promising to "remove the incentive for staying in poverty."

The president announced yesterday that he would set up a task force within 10 days to shape the welfare-reform proposal, and he vowed to work with the governors and Congress to fulfill his campaign pledge to "end welfare as we know it."

After his fourth meeting with the state chief executives in three days, Mr. Clinton went directly to Capitol Hill to meet with congressional leaders. In an unannounced session, he encouraged them to contribute to the long-promised economic program he will unveil on Feb. 17.

White House spokesmen insisted that no decisions had been made on details of the president's proposal, but administration planners are expected to begin sending tentative budget figures to the federal agencies this week. This is one of the last steps in the policy-making process before the president completes his State of the Union address.

Government figure show one in every seven American children receives welfare benefits, following a striking increase in recipients during recent economic hard times.

The government's most recent records show that nearly 13.9 million Americans, including 9.43 million children under age 18, received cash assistance in November under Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

The program's caseloads have grown every month but two since July 1989, and during the height of the recession 2,000 children were added to the AFDC rolls every day.

Activists say the surge in Americans who receive AFDC, most of them single-parent families, and the record share of the population now receiving aid give more urgency to Mr. Clinton's promises to reform welfare and health care and revitalize the economy.

AFDC is the government's major cash welfare program for families with children. Benefits are expected to cost the states and federal government $22.4 billion this year. The average monthly payment to an AFDC family is $376.

Mr. Clinton said many people stay on welfare because they are afraid of losing Medicaid coverage for their families or can't afford child care. Mr. Clinton said there should be "a certain time beyond which people don't draw a check for doing nothing when they can do something. And there is a lot of work out there to be done."

The president suggested that the maximum time be two years on the welfare rolls. He said about half the people now drawing benefits have been on welfare for more than two years and that 25 percent continue to receive benefits after eight years.

Mr. Clinton encouraged the governors to experiment with new approaches, even if he disagrees with their ideas. He said he would ask only that they measure the results honestly and drop approaches that don't work.

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