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Media Advisory

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
3003 N. Charles Street, Suite 100
Baltimore, Maryland 21218-3843
Phone: (410) 516-7160 | Fax (410) 516-5251

February 1, 2002
To Reporters, Editors, Producers
From Amy Cowles | (410)516-7800 | amycowles@jhu.edu
Glenn Small | (410)516-6094 | glenn@jhu.edu
Re Welfare Reform Sources

As Congress prepares to debate re-authorization of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), consider the following Johns Hopkins researchers as sources for putting the welfare reform experiment into proper perspective. The list of experts covers areas such as the relationship between welfare benefits and out-of-wedlock childbearing, housing issues, the effects of welfare reform on families and efforts to help the hardest to employ get jobs and build skills.

Effects of welfare reform on families
Andrew Cherlin, sociologist.

Cherlin is the principal investigator of a four-year, three-city study on the effects of welfare reform laws on families. (View the project s website at http://www.jhu.edu/~welfare/). Cherlin s research focuses on the well-being of the children of welfare reform.

To many people, the welfare story ends when families go off the rolls, Cherlin says. In truth, no one knows for sure what will happen. This is the greatest social experiment with the lives of poor children since the welfare program was created during the Great Depression.

Cherlin is a national expert on family issues, with an emphasis on public policy issues, and the effects of family changes on children. Some of his books include: Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage, Divided Families: What Happens to Children When Parents Part and The Changing American Family and Public Policy. (View Cherlin s Web site at www.soc.jhu.edu/.)
Contact: Amy Cowles

Welfare s impact on adolescents and young adults
Lingxin Hao, sociologist.

Hao s research focuses on the American family and public policies. She is currently studying the consequences of welfare reform for adolescents and young adults. Hao suggests it is important to study young people because the success of welfare reform will be judged by its effects on the next generation to enter adulthood, some of whom will enter the welfare system. By examining school enrollment, youth employment, school-to-work transition, premarital teen births and welfare participation using a national, longitudinal survey of the most recent adolescent cohort, Hao hopes her study will further our understanding of the relationship between policy structure and young adult behavior while informing policy makers of the impact of welfare reform on adolescents and young adults.

She has recently completed research that examines patterns of single mothers' economic strategies to support their families and its effects on the children's social and emotional development, using large national, longitudinal survey data. (View Hao s website at www.soc.jhu.edu/.)
Contact: Amy Cowles

Helping the hardest-to-employ
Melissa Siberts, project director, The Career Transcript System, the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies.

Over the past three years, in seven cities across the United States, Siberts and her colleagues worked on demonstrating that people with low literacy levels, poor job history and a history of welfare dependence, the so-called hardest to employ, could not only find steady work but increase their skill and pay levels.

The approach was to pair a mentor from a community college with the employee and the employee s manager or supervisor, who together would assess the worker s skill set versus the job requirements and then make a plan for improvement. Siberts says that of the 1,100 who participated in the past three years, the study s participants held on to jobs longer and increased their pay by an average of $1 per hour, per year, compared with a similar group.

Siberts said the preliminary results are good and expects to publish the findings in a report due out in February of 2002. The cities involved in the study include Baltimore, Chicago, Indian River, Ind.; Portland, Ore.; Long Beach, Calif.; Hartford, Conn.; and Davenport, Ill.
Contact: Glenn Small

Racial issues and welfare
Katrina Bell McDonald, sociologist.

McDonald s research centers on analyzing the life experiences of African-American women, past and present. She is particularly interested in a growing detachment, or sometimes tension, between middle-income and low-income black women, particularly those on welfare.

By analyzing urban migratory patterns, kinship ties and personal interviews with black women, she is working to shed light on a growing geographical, cultural and emotional distance between lower and middle classes of contemporary, urban black women. (View McDonald's website at www.soc.jhu.edu/)
Contact: Amy Cowles

What came before welfare?
Matthew A. Crenson, political scientist.

Crenson spent nearly a decade poring over thousands of documents and other materials relating to orphanages and wrote a book that examines the history of orphanages and how the current welfare system was really a reaction against the traditional orphanage.

While some conservatives have called for a return to the orphanage as a solution to welfare, Crenson can explain how the welfare system is actually cheaper and better than the orphanage system, and give anecdotes and examples. His book is, Building the Invisible Orphanage: A prehistory of the American Welfare System.
Contact: Glenn Small

The economics of welfare
Robert A. Moffitt, economist.

For 10 years, Moffitt has studied the possible connection between welfare benefits and out-of-wedlock child bearing, research that recently earned him a prestigious National Institute of Health MERIT award. Part of his work has illuminated the role that declining wages and job prospects of less educated men have played in out-of-wedlock child bearing, and his current focus is on determining if the 1996 welfare law is responsible for a recent surge in marriage rates. He is also the author of the recent book, Evaluating Welfare Reform in an Era of Transition.
Contact: Glenn Small

Housing and welfare reform
Sandra J. Newman, director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies.

Newman specializes in housing, social welfare and long-term care policy. She has written a book that looks at the impact of welfare reform on both assisted and unassisted housing, reviews the lessons learned about the role of housing in moving welfare recipients to economic self-sufficiency and identifies the special challenges welfare reform presents with regard to housing policy and research. In her recent book, The Home Front: Implications of Welfare Reform for Housing Policy, Newman and her co-contributors examine the important but often overlooked relationship between housing policy and welfare reform.
Contact: Glenn Small

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