Women United
Justice, Community and Family

Folks On Welfare Are Just Like You

By Melanie Stafford

Once again this holiday season we witnessed the traditional few days of outpouring of goodwill and charity for the poor: Salvation Army buckets ringing with coins, radio stations and police officers delivering toys to children who wouldn't have known Santa, volunteers working overtime at shelters to make a once-a-year turkey dinner, companies adopting families so they can afford a new pair of shoes all around. But now that January's here and the state Legislature will begin debating welfare reform, many Coloradans will return to their Scrooge-like view of those families as slackers and cheats living off of taxpayer handouts. The mothers and children so reminiscent of Mary and Jesus will go back to being illegal "aliens" who don't deserve food or roofs over their heads because this American inn is full.

Welfare reform will be unconscionably punitive if it's based on popular stereotypes about welfare mothers and their children. In Colorado, the average family on welfare consists of one mother and two children who receive assistance for 13.6 months. Eighty-five percent of recipients are off welfare in two years or less. Half to two-thirds of the women on welfare, according to family violence experts, are escaping from abusive partners. These are just people like you and me who've fallen on hard times and are trying to get their lives together. Please ask your Legislature for humane welfare reform; let them know Coloradans won't turn their backs on women and children in need, leaving them to starvation and homelessness.
(Melanie Stafford is a member of Women United.)

SOURCE: Boulder Daily Camera, Editorial, January 14, 1996

Women United
Boulder, Colorado