For immediate release
March 6, 2013
International Women’s Day Week kicks off as Women’s Groups hail reintroduction of RISE Out Of Poverty Act in Congress
West Coast: Margaret Prescod, 323-646-1269
East Coast: Pat Albright, 267-254-4467
Women’s groups, in the US and other countries, laud the reintroduction of the RISE Out of Poverty Act in Congress on the occasion of International Women’s Day Week. The RISE Out Of Poverty (RISE) Act was reintroduced in the US Congress Monday, February 25 by Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin (http://gwenmoore.house.gov). A former welfare mother herself, Representative Moore, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, first introduced the bill on December 6, 2011. Grassroots women in several states have formed a national network to gather support for the legislation. They will be highlighting the importance of the bill for ending the poverty of children and their mothers at events to be held on or around International Women’s Day March 8. RISE has also received recognition in the British Parliament with an Early Day Motion put forward by John McDonnell MP.
The bill acknowledges the caregiving work that mothers and other carers do, and that such critical work of a society has not been supported or even acknowledged by governments local and national. The result is that the caregiver and those she or he cares for are barely surviving.
The goal of the “Rewriting to Improve and Secure an Exit Out of Poverty Act” or the “RISE Out of Poverty Act” (H.R. 814) is to reduce child poverty, and RISE would get rid of some of the most punitive aspects of the current system. It would require states to provide assistance sufficient to meet the survival needs of families, as well as provide benefits and services to families at risk of having a child removed from the home because of poverty, and stop the clock on the 5-year time limit during a recession. Other provisions include:
· Allowing mothers to keep child support on top of welfare;
· Entitling family members to benefits who are caring fulltime for disabled children, parents or other relatives;
· Expediting benefits for domestic violence survivors;
· Supporting education by excluding student aid from welfare calculations and ending the 12-month educational limits so that mothers can once again pursue a 2-4 year college education;
· Ending the lifetime ban on assistance for families where one member has not complied with work requirements/workfare as well as for ex-prisoners with a drug felony conviction;
· Removing the 12-month lifetime limit on exclusion of single parents of infants under one year from the work participation rate calculation;
· Protecting wages and working conditions by entitling mothers to refuse jobs below minimum wage or at work sites on strike or lockout.
TANF or welfare “reform” has been devastating and divisive to our families and entire communities: since its passage in 1996, extreme poverty among women-headed households has nearly tripled. 1.46 million households live on less than $2 per person per day. Those of us who are single mothers and our children, already the most impoverished, are the fastest growing population of those going to prison. With no income, with the safety net in shreds, mothers have no choice but to do what we can to feed our children, including taking survival steps which criminalize us. It is no accident that when welfare is cut the number of single mothers arrested for prostitution increases.
The April 9, 2012 New York Times article on the impact of welfare reform reflected some of what we know from our own experience and that of those around us “…poor people who were dropped from cash assistance here, mostly single mothers, talk with surprising openness about the desperate, and sometimes illegal, ways they make ends meet. They have sold food stamps, sold blood, skipped meals, shoplifted, doubled up with friends, scavenged trash bins for bottles and cans and returned to relationships with violent partners.”
Mothers have had children removed from their care after being charged with welfare fraud for working as a housecleaner while receiving benefits too low to live on. Others have had to choose between homelessness and returning to an abusive partner; and then if we are a victim of domestic abuse or become homeless, child welfare detains our children and places them in foster care or on a fast track adoption schedule, accusing us of failure to protect our children. In fact, welfare “reform” transferred money from welfare into “child welfare”, and the numbers of children removed from their homes and placed in foster care – especially from families of color – due not to abuse or neglect but to poverty have skyrocketed since its passage. Black children are more likely to be taken from their homes and placed in foster care, to stay in foster care longer and never returned to their families.
Contact us for more information, including activities planned on or around March 8, International Women’s Day.
Participants in the National and International Working Group on Welfare include:
Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), Benton Harbor, MI
DHS/DCFS – Give Us Back Our Children/Southern California & Philadelphia, PA
Energy Rescue, Omaha, NE
Every Mother is a Working Mother Network/Philadelphia & Southern CA
Family Advocacy Movement, Omaha, NE
Family Connection Center, Cleveland, Ohio
Georgia Citizens Coalition on Hunger, Atlanta, GA
Global Women’s Strike, Guyana, UK, US
International Women Count Network/Breastfeeding Network, UK & US
Legal Action for Women, San Francisco, CA & London, England
Massachusetts Welfare Rights Union, Mattapan, MA
Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Detroit, MI
Military Families Speak Out, Southern California
National Welfare Rights Union, Detroit, MI
New Life Career Center, Hempstead, Long Island, NY
Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights (POWER), Olympia, WA
Payday Men’s Network, US & UK
Queer Strike/ US & UK; Red Thread, Guyana, South America
Single Mothers’ Self Defense, London, England
Survivors, Inc., Mattapan, MA
US Prostitutes Collective/San Francisco, CA
Welfare Warriors MaGoD (Mothers and Grandmothers of Disappeared Children), Milwaukee, WI WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)/UK & US
Women of Color/Global Women’s Strike, Guyana, UK, US.
The above networks came together in response to a call by: the Global Women’s Strike, Women of Color/Global Women’s Strike and Every Mother is a Working Mother Network. www.globalwomenstrike.net www.everymothernetwork.net