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March 1, 1999

CARDINAL BEVILACQUA ISSUES CHALLENGE
TO EMPLOYERS


ARCHDIOCESE PREPARES FOR WELFARE REFORM DEADLINE

Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia, is challenging private sector employers in the Philadelphia region to look to welfare recipients as potential employees, especially after March 3rd. "The changes in Pennsylvania's welfare laws are creating new opportunities for employers to look at job candidates that they might never have otherwise considered for employment," said Cardinal Bevilacqua. "The government wants to transition people from welfare to work and the private sector has a social responsibility to assist this transition."

" It will take great courage on the part of many welfare recipients to turn their lives around. They are being asked to become self-sufficient. God calls on us to share in the responsibility of helping our brothers and sisters by recognizing that everyone has a valuable contribution to make to society," said Cardinal Bevilacqua. "I am asking business leaders of this community to open their doors to these former welfare recipients, many of whom are well-trained and job ready."


The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which serves as the largest single provider of social services in the Commonwealth, has been preparing for the March 3rd welfare reform deadline when many welfare recipients will begin to lose their cash assistance because of non-compliance with new welfare-to-work rules. The Archdiocese has already provided job training and employment opportunities for more than 100 former welfare recipients.

Approximately 850 families served by Catholic Social Services will be effected by welfare reforms. This includes clients served by Catholic Social Services' Family Service Centers throughout the five-county region. However, Catholic Social Services also anticipates that hundreds of other welfare recipients (who are not necessarily current CSS clients) may emerge needing assistance (through parishes, schools, food cupboards and emergency shelters).

To prepare for the possible influx of new needs, the Archdiocese is working in these areas:

> Direct service--
a)
educating Catholic Social Service staff, pastors, and clients.
b) preparing "Welfare to Work Resource Packets", which will be distributed to parishes through
ten Family Service Centers throughout the region. The Family Service Centers will serve as key
points for assistance. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has mailed Welfare-to-Work Resource
Packets to 750 summer feeding sites, child care centers and schools. Approximately 3000
more packets are being compiled for distribution.
c) providing information, referral and assistance (through Family Service Centers) to individuals and families of all faiths throughout the region

> Training--
a) training, assisting and placing welfare recipients into jobs through the J.O.B.S. (Job Opportunities for Becoming Self-Sufficient) program, contracted with the Private Industry Council (approximately 80 former welfare recipients have been placed in jobs so far, many as Certified Nursing Assistants at nursing homes).

Employment/Community Service Opportunities
a) creating employment slots.
b) creating community service/volunteer opportunities.

Advocacy
a) monitoring reforms to ensure that the law is implemented fairly in accordance with Department of Public Welfare guidelines.
b) working to modify the system to ensure that children of former welfare recipients are protected.

"We are working at every level to make certain that Catholic Social Service clients who are welfare recipients have been given as much information as possible about their obligations, their benefits, and opportunities for job training and community service," said Cardinal Bevilacqua. "Welfare reform is a challenge not only for the client, but for the Commonwealth and for the Church. However, working together as a community, we can create new possibilities for many people."

# # #

Editor's Note: Tonight, from 5:00-6:00 p.m. on WZZD-990-AM, "Welfare Reform" will be the subject of the Cardinal's radio program, Live with Cardinal Bevilacqua. Cardinal Bevilacqua, Monsignor Timothy Senior, Secretary for Catholic Human Services, Velma Clark, Director of the Office for Human Relations, and a former welfare recipient will be available for interviews after the program. If you plan to go to the radio station, please contact Cathy Rossi in the Office for Communications at 215-587-3747.

Contact
Cathy Rossi
Director
215-587-3747

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