Statement of Darnell Carter, Detroit, Michigan

Hearing on Welfare Reform Success

April 2, 2002

Good Morning Everyone,

I appreciate the opportunity to stand before this committee today to give my personal testimony concerning welfare reform and its impact on my life, and also to be a voice for the people regarding the matter. 

A reporter at an achiever ceremony I attended with Gov. Engler asked me a question, “Do you think that Gov. Engler’s welfare reform initiative was creating the working poor?”  I replied by saying, ”No”.

I believe that welfare reform has been successful thus far.  In Michigan welfare caseloads are down tremendously compared to 1996 when the welfare reform law was implemented.  As a single parent with sole custody of two children, my 12-year-old daughter Egypt and 8-year-old daughter Christian, working is a winner hands down even though I still deal with some of the challenges that faced me while I was on assistance such as child support and daycare.  I’m not going to worry because I have a strong belief in God and the ability to see my goals and make them come true despite what challenges are before me.  But not everyone can see their lives that way.  Now I will offer to you a different perspective as a case manager assisting recipients in making the transition from welfare to work.  I’ve been employed for almost 5 years and have met thousands of people at the very work first program that I attended. And my question along with countless others is, “Where are the programs to assist low-income fathers?”  I don’t believe that there are even 25 statewide.  And of the few programs I know that are operating they function more as a liaison for some services versus being a training component to assist low income fathers in rebuilding there lives and reconnecting them to there families.  This has to change!  And just like Mothers, Fathers are unique in their own way with very different needs such as more skilled jobs training, educational opportunities and to many help with legal matters.

In conclusion, I believe that if we design, implement and provide more funding for programs to assist low income fathers that we will further meet our goal of strengthening Michigan families and be an example for the rest of the country.  In addition I believe that once we do this we will begin to see even more progress with welfare reform and truly reach our goal of strengthening families and significantly reducing government dependency.

Thank You.