Letter to Members of Congress: Support the RISE Out of Poverty Act, HR 3486

Dear Congressman/woman________,

We are writing to request that you sign on and actively support the RISE Out of Poverty Act (RISE Act H.R. 3486) introduced by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI).  The goal of RISE is to reduce child poverty and eliminate some of the most punitive aspects of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

We are also requesting the reintroduction of the Women’s Option to Raise Kids Act (WORK Act, H.R. 4379) that was introduced in the last Congress by Representative Pete Stark.  WORK would recognize that raising young children is vital work, and give mothers on welfare the option of raising young children fulltime at home until the age of three.

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.  Single mothers and our children 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. Many, particular women of color, are losing custody of children to child welfare services due to poverty.

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.”

A former welfare mother herself, Representative Moore first introduced the “Rewriting to Improve and Secure an Exit Out of Poverty” or “RISE” Act on December 6, 2011 to address just those conditions. She re-introduced RISE on February 25, 2013.  RISE would:

  • Require states to provide assistance sufficient to meet the survival needs of families
  • Provide benefits and services to families at risk of having a child removed from the home because of poverty
  • Stop the clock on the 5-year time limit during a recession
  • Allow mothers to keep child support on top of welfare;
  • Entitle family members to benefits who are caring fulltime for disabled children, parents or other relatives;
  • Expedite benefits for domestic violence survivors;
  • Support 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;
  • End 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;
  • Remove the 12-month lifetime limit on exclusion of single parents of infants under one year from the work participation rate calculation;
  • Protect wages and working conditions by entitling mothers to refuse jobs below minimum wage or at work sites on strike or lockout.

Our group is part of a national and international campaign to end poverty of mothers and children everywhere and in the US we are focusing on the RISE and WORK acts. Please see attached Early Day Motion put forward by John McDonald MP of the British Parliament in support of the Acts.

Attached please see more information about RISE and why it is so critical to women that it be enacted.  We will contact your office for your response, or you can reach us via phone at or email. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Pat Albright, Every Mother is a Working Mother Network/Phila
Phoebe Jones, Global Women’s Strike (GWS)
Margaret Prescod, Global Women’s Strike (GWS), Women of Color/GWS

Organizations who have participated thus far:

Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), Benton Harbor, MI

Rossana Cambron, member, Military Families Speak Out, Southern California

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

FamilyConnectionCenter, Cleveland, Ohio

Global Women’s Strike, Guyana, UK, US

Legal Action for Women, San Francisco, CA & London, England

Massachusetts Welfare Rights Union, Mattapan, MA

Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Detroit, MI

National Welfare Rights Union, Detroit, MI

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

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