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GAO SAYS PROGRAMS FOR WELFARE MOMS ARE FAILING

SHARE GAO SAYS PROGRAMS FOR WELFARE MOMS ARE FAILING

Education and training programs for women on welfare are failing to establish strong links to local employers that could help these single parents find and keep jobs, according to a study released Monday.

The report by the General Accounting Office also found that many single women who are at high risk of long-term welfare dependency, particularly substance abusers and teenage mothers, are not being served by these state-run programs.Of the 4 million parents on Aid to Families with Dependent Children, only about 11 percent were participating in the education and training program known as JOBS, for Job Opportunities and Basic Skills from 1991 through 1993, the congressional watchdog agency said.

Spending on JOBS totaled $1.1 billion last year. Yet despite the investment, the program generally does not view employment as its bottom line and is not reaching out to many welfare recipients with the biggest barriers to entering the work force, such as learning disabilities, emotional problems and teenagers.

Melissa Skolfield, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said Monday that while some JOBS programs are beginning to change the focus of the welfare system in some states, "it's clear that much more has to be done to move poor, single mothers from welfare to work."

Rapid increases in the number of people on welfare in recent years and concerns about long stays on welfare have focused national attention on the nation's welfare system. GOP lawmakers say reform will be at the top of the agenda when they take control of Congress in January.