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Welfare Study Finds Big Need for Child Care

July 24, 2002|CARLA RIVERA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Welfare recipients in Los Angeles County say inadequate and expensive child care is the major impediment to getting and keeping a job, according to a large-scale study released Tuesday by county officials.

In addition, the county must provide better education and training programs, respondents said, if they are to gain real self-sufficiency.

The study, "Running Out of Time: Voices of Parents Struggling to Move from Welfare to Work," was commissioned by the Los Angeles County Children's Planning Council and conducted by the Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit social research group.

Over a three-week period in April and May, it surveyed more than 8,500 current and past welfare recipients, as well as poor people who had never received cash assistance under the CalWORKS welfare-to-work program.

The goal was to learn the priorities of welfare recipients and working poor families, and how best the county can help them get jobs. The results are intended to be used as a blueprint for allocating county welfare resources.

For example, one group of respondents surveyed at a Los Angeles food bank said child care services are fundamental, and complained that in their community a good day-care center charged as much as $300 a week, far too costly for their limited means. Among the study's major findings:

* Some 26% of CalWORKS recipients were employed at the time of the survey; 43% had worked during the previous year.

* Respondents who worked the previous year typically had more years of school than those who were unemployed (10.6 years versus 9.6 years).

"What stands out in the study is that there is a misperception that families don't want to work," said Yolie Flores Aguilar, executive director of the Children's Planning Council. "But this is a message loud and clear that they want to make it, to do good by their families, but that they can't make it alone."

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