Helping Mothers Find Work Helps Children

Re “Even Tougher Love for Welfare Moms,” Commentary, June 11: Bruce Fuller criticizes the requirement for welfare recipients to work 40 hours per week. In fact, the administration’s welfare proposal requires only that recipients be engaged in actual work for 24 hours per week. The other 16 hours would have to be spent in activities that could include training in job readiness and job skills, substance abuse treatment (for which states receive no credit under current law) and counseling--whatever is necessary to complement recipients’ work efforts and help them succeed.

The expected 40 hours of combined work and complementary activities are essential to help recipients prepare for taking the kinds of jobs offering the best wages and crucial benefits, like health and child care. We expect states to use the flexibility inherent in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program to assure that recipients are working toward this goal.

We have no intention of neglecting the children; in fact, the administration has proposed that improving child well-being should be the overarching goal of the TANF program. The administration proposes to maintain spending on child care at historically high levels--overall, $11 billion per year in federal and state funds. The president’s proposal would also strengthen child support enforcement.

Wade F. Horn


Assistant Secretary for

Children and Families, Department of

Health and Human Services