The measures passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 “to end welfare as we know it” were heralded as a ticket to economic self-sufficiency. The poor would be encouraged to enter the workforce and eventually leave all welfare assistance behind.
But an I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS examination of one of the most important programs in Colorado – subsidized child care – shows the opposite may be happening.
Those closest to economic self-sufficiency – considered to be about 225 percent of the federal poverty level – are endangered by a phenomena called the “cliff effect.” A family’s rising income can lead to a sudden termination of an important benefit, plunging the family more deeply back into poverty.
The I-News inquiry, which resulted in a Rocky Mountain PBS documentary, also shows that tens of thousands of working poor families in Colorado have no real shot at economic self-sufficiency. They simply are too far from making enough money.
It's an issue that will be explored again tonight at Children's Hospital Colorado when Project WISE, a Denver-based advocacy organization for women, and Colorado Participation Project, which provides voter information and civic participation resources, hosts a screening of the Rocky Mountain PBS documentary and a panel discussion about changing inadequacies in the work support programs.
The documentary, "Losing Ground: The Cliff Effect," can be viewed here.
The full I-News text report is available here.