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Welfare action alert

by every mother a working mother Tuesday, Jun. 11, 2002 at 7:47 PM 323-292-7405

Your help is needed urgently. At this critical time when welfare 'reform' reauthorization is moving rapidly through the Senate, join with other mothers and care givers pressing for caring work to be valued in welfare benefits.

Action Alert -- Action Alert -- Action Alert

Your help is needed urgently. At this critical time when welfare 'reform'

reauthorization is moving rapidly through the Senate, join with other

mothers and care givers pressing for caring work to be valued in welfare

benefits. The attached letter to friends gives more information and a list

of things that you can do. We are also attaching a letter to Members of

Congress. Please sign and email this lobby letter to the following

senators as well as others. Please also email a copy to us so that we can

keep a compiled and growing list of signers.

Senator Barbara Boxer

Senator Diane Feinstein

Senator Edward Kennedy

Senator Daniel Akaka

Senator Jeff Bingaman

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

Senator Jon Corzine

Senator Christopher Dodd

Senator Russ Feingold

Senator Patrick Leahy

Senator Barbara Mikulski

Senator Jack Reed

Senator Paul Sarbanes

Senator Charles Schumer

Senator Debbie Stabenow

Senator Paul Wellstone

Senator Ron Wyden

And to Every Mother is a Working Mother Network


Every Mother is a Working Mother Network

June 5, 2002

Caregivers Count, Value our Work in Welfare Policy!

Dear Friends:

As welfare "reform" reauthorization moves through its last stages in the

Senate, those of us who are mothers and other carers are determined to

continue to claim our right to welfare for the caring work we do. We can't

afford to give up. Our lives, the lives of those we care for, and the

health and welfare of all our communities, are at stake. With Bonnie Macri

of JEDI for Women in Utah, and an ad hoc emergency coalition of Welfare

Warriors, Welfare Made a Difference Campaign, Parents for Justice,

Interfaith Coalition for the General Welfare, Flushing Greens and others,

we are taking our case directly to Congress. We refuse to accept the

current premise of their debate: that mothers and other caregivers are

non-workers. We demand that the vital and essential work we do must be

valued. Our refusal has already had an impact: there are now proposals in

the Senate that begin to value caring work. But we urgently need your help

to strengthen the power of our case.

We are calling for caring work to be valued and for this to be reflected in

welfare policy. We are asking you to endorse and circulate the enclosed

petition and lobby letter, as well as to support our grassroots "pots and

pans protest" in Washington DC on June 18.

We have witnessed with outrage how the care-giving work done by welfare

mothers has been ignored or tokenized in the debate around reauthorization,

perpetuating the lie that mothers on welfare contribute nothing and are

"lazy scroungers." What work is harder than caring for children, and on

next to nothing, especially if the child has a disability? And what work is

more crucial to society - we raise the whole of the next generation, and

nurse and care for the older one.

Every mother can feel what mothers on welfare face on a daily basis: being

forced to leave your children against your will and often under

questionable conditions, having less than half an hour a day of waking time

with your infants. Everyone can imagine the horror of having to face being

laid off from a waged job while the pressure of the 60-month time clock

builds. All mothers know how it feels to be sick with worry and unable to

focus when you leave your children alone, or have an ill child in the care

of others, when you know you are what your child needs. Who cannot

understand the agony of knowing the benefits of breastfeeding but being

prevented from providing them? And though mothers are mandated to leave

their children, they are then held accountable when something goes wrong in

their absence. All of this traumatizes both mothers and children.

Lynda Brewer, a grandmother in inner city Los Angeles raising four

grandchildren, has testified: "The social workers come around making home

visits. And when we complain about the bad treatment we are getting or

they see we are not miracle workers and can't make a dollar out of fifteen

cents, we are told we have a bad attitude, or that we can't properly care

for our children and are threatened with having our kids taken from us."

Bonnie Macri of JEDI for Women describes children being snatched from their

mothers' arms and placed in foster care or fast track adoption.

Mothers won welfare 65 years ago when they made the government understand

that single mothers make a contribution to society and need economic

support. In the 1960s, Black women on welfare led the movement for

increases in and greater access to benefits. In so doing they established

the right of all to money in recognition of the work of raising our

children, a right to which women, not just those with low or no income, in

every other industrialized country in the world are entitled.

This movement made it possible for women to leave abusive relationships

without being punished with the theft of their children. It resulted in a

rise in the minimum wage. It took money from war-making to be put into

care-taking. It impacted us all. Without the struggle mothers on welfare

made for money for caregiving, all of us, in waged work or not, would not

have the rights we have today. This present attack on mothers on welfare

will also impact us all. It is time for all to stand with welfare mothers,

and insist that their caring work is valued in welfare reform.

The movement to value caring work is growing. Support comes from: The

Women's Committee of 100, including Frances Fox Piven, Gwendolyn Mink and

others; NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund; The Quality Home Care Coalition

(CA); IRAPS (CA) (a disability network); Jobs with Justice (Phila), & more.

We refuse to be penalized as irresponsible charity cases. We insist on the

recognition and resources we have earned. There is no excuse for the

wealthiest and most powerful country in the world not to provide them. To

demand welfare - money for caring - is to demand the kind of society we

want. The lack of value placed on essential caring at every level is at

the heart of priorities that increase military budgets and Enron profits

and corporate welfare at the expense of food, health, housing and education

for the hardest working communities.

We urge you to consider the following list of what you can do at this

critical time. Please contact us for additional info. We look forward to

hearing from you.

Margaret Prescod & Lynda Brewer/ LA; Pat Albright & Marie

Fitzpatrick/Phila; Rachel West/SF


What you can do:

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