The University Record, February 11, 1997

Welfare debate focus of panel of journalists, welfare experts

By Bernie DeGroat
News and Information Services


"Shaping the Welfare Debate: The Press, Policy and Public Perception" will be discussed by a panel of nationally known journalists and welfare experts 1:30-5 p.m. Mon. (Feb. 17) at the Business School's Hale Auditorium.

Sponsored by the Michigan Journalism Fellows, the schools of Public Policy and Social Work and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the free, public event will focus on recent changes in the federal welfare program and the media's role in shaping public perception and policy.

"Welfare has become a nebula of our most explosive political issues---race, wealth and education," says Charles R. Eisendrath, director of the Michigan Journalism Fellows. "Its coverage is no less controversial, and is seldom discussed beyond journalism reviews. For the first time, we are bringing together a carefully balanced selection of major players from the trenches, the classroom and the newsroom."

Panelist Sheldon Danziger, professor of public policy and of social work, says that the federal welfare reform law passed in 1996 gives states a block grant of fixed size and increased discretion to shape their own welfare programs, places a five-year lifetime limit on the receipt of welfare benefits, and requires most welfare mothers to go to work no later than two years after entering the program.

"The success of welfare reform depends both on how efficiently the reformed program will be able to move recipients from welfare to work, on whether welfare mothers can keep jobs once they begin work, and on whether they can eventually earn enough to support their families," he says.

For more information, call Debbie Banks, Michigan Journalism Fellows, 998-7666.