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Welfare Mothers Should Be Made to Work, Shalala Says

June 04, 1993|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Low-income mothers should not stay home at taxpayer expense while working-class mothers must help support their families, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala said Thursday in tough comments on welfare-to-work requirements.

"I don't think we should subsidize poor mothers to stay out of the work force when working-class mothers are going into the work force," Shalala said in an interview.

The Clinton Administration is beginning work to overhaul a welfare system serving a record 5 million families. Shalala's comments on work requirements for welfare mothers, including those at home with infants and toddlers, were the first indication of how stringent the reforms might be.

Her remarks also are at odds with the positions taken by the Children's Defense Fund during her long tenure on its board of directors. The liberal advocacy group opposed passage of a 1988 law that required states to put a growing share of recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children into education and training.

President Clinton wants to go even further. He has said that low-income Americans should be given education, training and public assistance for two years, followed by work requirements for those who are able.

"There are large numbers of mothers of young children in the work force because they have to be. And we should not have different expectations for public programs than what society at large has evolved into," Shalala said.

"The issue is what kind of work," she said. "It may not be fair to ask them to work an eight-hour day . . . but it may be appropriate to have part-time work for mothers who have young children."

Shalala said national welfare reform would include a "day care system and a child care system that's supportive of people that go to work."

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