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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Day-care dilemmas

Four years after welfare reform measures started moving people from welfare to work, some preschoolers find themselves in low-quality child care. Researchers at Yale University, New Haven, Conn., and the University of California, Berkeley, found that although a sizable share of women are moving into jobs, their children are cared for in places where educational resources are scarce and little reading to children is taking place.

That's not surprising, says Jerome Nilssen, area director for Lutheran Social Services of Southern California in the San Fernando Valley. Often single mothers who find a job need to locate child care quickly and before financial assistance arrives. In such cases, Nilssen says a woman will often leave her children with a relative or friend.

"Welfare reform may have been instituted too quickly or for political reasons, but I won't fault the government for that," he says. "The fact is that it's here, and we have to deal with it. There have been a lot of positive effects."

Nilssen says women who move to work from welfare have a more positive self-image, which their children often appreciate.

"The beginning of the solution is for places like ours to have a lot of information available" for those seeking quality child care, Nilssen says.


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