Community Groups Continue to Grapple with Resolving the “Cliff Effect”

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.

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