As part of the Times' grudging coverage of the successful 10th anniversary of welfare reform comes Eric Eckholm's Tuesday report from Philadelphia, "A Welfare Law Milestone Finds Many Left Behind."
"Over the last five years, Mysheda Autry has received welfare checks and food stamps, gone through a welfare-to-work program and briefly held several jobs. She has also given birth to her second and third children.
"Ms. Autry, 25, with a 10th-grade education, was finally overwhelmed by the demands of work and family, and in February she showed up at the People's Emergency Center, a social service agency, with her three children, a fourth on the way, no job and no place to live.
"She has exceeded the usual five-year limit for receiving welfare, and although the state has given her a reprieve, her benefits will be cut off, she has been warned, if she does not resume full-time job-skill classes and a job search within eight and a half months after her new baby is born.
"As political leaders give two cheers on Tuesday for the 10th anniversary of the welfare reform law that helped draw many single mothers from dependency into the work force, though often leaving them still in poverty, social workers and researchers are raising concerns about families that have not made the transition and often lead extraordinarily precarious lives.
"These include mothers who, so beleaguered by personal problems and parenting that they have not been able to keep jobs, continue to need counseling and cash. They also include another large group of poor mothers - one million by some estimates - who are neither working nor receiving benefits."
"'There aren't so many mothers who could never get on track, but getting them into work will take a lot more time and resources than many states have been able to provide,' said LaDonna A. Pavetti, a welfare researcher with Mathematica Policy Research.
"Without such extra attention, more will join a growing group of poor families, known to scholars as the 'disconnected,' that are scraping by without either cash benefits or employment."
But Eckholm doesn't provide any stats that show how this group is "growing." And his choice of policy analysts is also dubious.
"According to new calculations by the private Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, as of 2003, the last year for which detailed data are available, about one million single mothers were neither working nor receiving cash benefits from welfare, disability or unemployment insurance and were not living with a partner who had any of these income sources either."
Eckholm fails to mention CBPP's left-wing stance on welfare and spending issues. Welfare reform in 1996? Hated it: "The overriding effect of the legislation is likely to be a large increase in poverty, especially among children and legal immigrants."
Nope. Poverty among children fell, notes Christine Kim and Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation: "Not surprisingly, as families left welfare and single mothers transitioned into work, the child poverty rate fell, from 20.8 percent in 1995 to 17.8 percent in 2004, lifting 1.6 million children out of poverty. The declines in poverty among black children and children from single-mother families were unprecedented."