The University of Chicago News Office
Nov. 28, 1995 Press Contact: Sabrina Miller
(773) 702-4195

Policy Analysts Focus on Needs of Families in Poverty

While many of the nation’s governors, including Jim Edgar of Illinois, are clamoring for control of welfare programs, a panel of researchers and policy-makers this week will discuss concrete proposals to help people in poverty.

Eight researchers, including three from the University of Chicago, and more than 70 regional leaders and policy-makers will discuss the complicated issues of how best to help families in poverty and reform the nation’s welfare system at “Families, Poverty and Welfare Reform,” the sixth Chicago Assembly, scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 30, and Friday, Dec. 1. The working sessions will be at the Hickory Ridge Conference Center in Lisle, Ill.

“The responsibility for poverty is shifting from the federal government to the states, now that Congress is replacing entitlements with block grants to the states to finance programs for the poor,” said Laurence E. Lynn Jr., Professor in the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. “It is imperative that Illinois policy-makers and the public have an unbiased understanding of the issues involved in family poverty.”

The Chicago Assembly is a collaborative project of the Center for Urban Research & Policy Studies at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and the Metropolitan Planning Council. Lynn, Director of the Center for Urban Research & Policy Studies, said he hoped the assembly’s report could help refocus policy debate on poverty issues.

“Illinois policy-makers must focus on the needs of Illinois families as they think about how to reform welfare,” Lynn said. “Getting the welfare rolls down is not the real point. The real point is to meet human needs in an efficient and humane way–that is the challenge.”

The objectives of the assembly include focusing attention on policy issues in the Chicago area; educating government officials, community leaders and the public; and increasing the level of public-policy discussion in the metropolitan area. Previous topics have included “Creating Jobs, Creating Workers,” “Paying for Health Care in Illinois” and “Paying for State and Local Government.”

At the assembly, participants will review background papers and critical commentaries written by leading experts in welfare and poverty issues. The final report of the participants will be published early next year. A book including the final report and background papers will be published later in 1996.

Background papers included at this year’s assembly are: :

* "Public Policy and Poverty: Welfare as We Have Always Known It," Lynn, who in addition to his appointment as Professor in SSA, is also Professor in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago

* "The Politics of Welfare Reform: Is Relief in Sight?” Evelyn Z. Brodkin, Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago

* "Effects of Poverty on Families and Children," P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Assistant Professor in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago

* "Welfare Reform in Illinois: Recent Efforts in the Context of the National Debate," Dan A. Lewis, Christine C. George and Deborah Puntenney, Northwestern University

* “Welfare Dynamics and Welfare Reform," Greg J. Duncan, Northwestern University

* "The Transition From Welfare to Work: Policies to Reduce Public Dependency," Gary Burtless, Brookings Institution

* “The Economic Context of Welfare Reform: New Paradoxes in the Relationship Between Work and Poverty," Cedric Herring, University of Illinois at Chicago, and David Fasenfest, Purdue University

* "State Welfare Reform Initiatives: Increasing Participation in Work and Work-related Activities," Pamela Holcomb and LaDonna Pavetti, Urban Institute

Major funding for the Chicago Assembly has been provided by the M.R. Bauer Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Editor’s Note: For detailed directions, schedules and background papers,please contact Catherine Behan at (773) 702-8359
Last modified at 03:50 PM CST on Wednesday, June 14, 2000.

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