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Petition to the US Congress

End poverty of mothers & children. Recognize caregiving work. Support the RISE Act and Reintroduction of the WORK Act.
WHEREAS 21.6% of US children live in poverty, more than in any other major industrialized country; and WHEREAS mothers are the primary caregivers everywhere in the world, working to ensure the survival and wellbeing of children, families and communities; and WHEREAS instead of recognition and support, mothers (and others with primary care responsibilities) are deprived of income and resources for this work; and WHEREAS since Welfare Reform (TANF) was introduced in 1996, mothers must do unpaid work to earn their benefits (Workfare); and WHEREAS wealthy mothers can choose to raise their children full-time, mothers on Workfare must leave their children, even without childcare, or lose their benefits; and WHEREAS Workfare bypasses the minimum wage and drives down all wages, especially womens, increasing the wage gap between women and men; and WHEREAS when mothers caregiving work is devalued, the children being cared for are devalued; and WHEREAS only 36% of welfare money now goes to support families; the rest goes to state bureaucracy, and to remove children from their low-income mothers; and WHEREAS breastfeeding among welfare mothers has decreased by 22%, and in Wisconsin, the first to introduce Welfare Reform, infant mortality has increased by 11%, and by 37% in Milwaukee's African American community;

Therefore we the undersigned:

REAFFIRM that every mother is a working mother, and every child is precious; and URGE the US Congress to pass and implement the Rise Out of Poverty Act (RISE Act H.R. 814) and to reintroduce and pass the Womens Option to Raise Kids Act (WORK Act was intro by Pete Stark D-CA no longer in Congress) so that welfare policy: 1. Prioritizes the elimination of child poverty. 2. Enables mothers and other caregivers to choose to raise their children full-time up to the age of three without having to take another job. 3. Reflects the value of caregiving work. NAME EMAIL/PHONE CITY/STATE/ZIPCODE ORGANIZATION IF ANY

Initiated by: Global Womens Strike $ Women of Color in the Global Womens Strike Every Mother is a Working Mother Network Return to: PO Box 11795, Phila., PA 19101
For info: 215-848-1120, or 323-276-9833,

In 1911 welfare (the mothers pension) was introduced to enable mothers without income to keep their children. In 1959 welfare was to "make it possible for a mother to choose between staying at home to care for her children and taking a job." In 1977 the first congressionally mandated Conference on Women, with elected representatives from all states and US territories, agreed that: The elimination of poverty must be a priority for all those working for equal rights for women . . . And just as with other workers, homemakers receiving income transfer payments should be afforded the dignity of having that payment called a wage, not welfare. In 1995 the UN World Conference on Women agreed that national accounts should include the value of caregiving work. In 2007 the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agreed that Improving the health of mothers and their children is a primary goal and that protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding is a key strategy towards this goal. These decisions are still to be implemented. Poverty has increased. While the US is the richest country in the world with the biggest military budget, nearly 1 in 2 people (150 million people) live in poverty or low income (latest US census). 26.6% of single parent families live in poverty (44% of Black families; 33.4% Latino/Hispanic; 22% white). Yet access to welfare has dropped from 68% of low income families in 1996 to 27% in 2010. Infant and child mortality has increased. So has domestic and sexual violence. Single mothers and their children are the fastest rising population of homeless people and of families with zero income. Nearly half of single mothers on welfare have a disability or a child with a disability. Mothers on Workfare are least likely to breastfeed. Mothers are the fastest rising population of prisoners.

The RISE Out of Poverty Act (H.R. 814, Rep. Gwen Moore, D-WI) would:
Make reducing child poverty the number one goal. Raise benefits to meet families basic needs. Allow mothers to keep child support on top of welfare. Entitle unmarried mothers under 18 living independently to assistance. Entitle family members caring fulltime for disabled children, parents or other relatives to benefits. Keep children with their mothers by requiring states to provide benefits and services for families at risk of having a child removed. Exempt domestic violence survivors from residency and child support requirements, caps and time limits; and expedite their benefits. Reduce mandatory Workfare to 20 hours for all. Count as Workfare all job search, training and related activities (ending allocated time limits). Exempt from Workfare single parents of every infant under one, ending the limit of 12 months in a lifetime. End sanctions against single parents who refuse Workfare if they have no childcare for a child under 13. Protect wages and working conditions by entitling mothers to refuse jobs below minimum wage or at work sites on strike or lockout. Restrict state powers to impose sanctions by taking account of individual circumstances (disability, childcare needs, homelessness, domestic violence, literacy, English . . .), and by allowing appeals.

Support education by excluding student aid from welfare calculations, and by ending 12-month educational limits so mothers Prohibit states from lowering the five year lifetime limit can pursue 2-4 year college courses. for welfare, and exclude from that limit any month where End the lifetime ban on assistance for families where one member unemployment is at or above 6.5%. has not complied with work requirements/Workfare, and for exRequire that states report on progress in reducing child prisoners with a drug felony conviction. poverty, preventing child removal, and on the income of families leaving welfare. Guarantee childcare for mothers on Workfare or studying, or leaving welfare for a low waged job. Allocate adequate permanent funding for welfare to cover inflation and increase in child population. Increase funding for Native American (tribal) programs.

The WORK (Womens Option to Raise Kids) Act (formerly H.R. 4379, Rep. Pete Stark, D-CA, which now must be reintroduced in Congress) would abolish Workfare requirements for single parents of children under three. This would: Enable children to receive their mothers nurturing in the first years of life. Recognize that raising children is vital work by counting it towards Workfare requirements to receive benefits. Recognize that all mothers, including those on welfare, have the right to raise their own children at least up to the age of three, giving them the same option that wealthy families enjoy. (Rep. Starks press release)