Family Aid Bill Supported by Major Faiths in Historic Joint Statement

In an historic joint appearance before a Congressional Committee, representatives of the federated Jewish, Catholic and Protestant welfare agencies of New York City called today upon the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance to report favorably on the now pending Family Assistance Act of 1970, with the climination of what they described as “clear weaknesses” in the proposed legislation. Characterizing the Act as “a milestone in the field of national social welfare policy,” the representatives declared that “the time is long overdue for this most prosperous and most fortunate country in the world to put an end to the blight of poverty.” Sanford Solender, executive vice president of Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, presented the statement on behalf of the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies of New York, as well as the Jewish Federation. The three faiths endorsed the legislation for its noteworthy features, which include: establishment of national minimum income standards; a federally financed income maintenance system; the inclusion of the so-called working poor within the Family Assistance Plan; the establishment of a correlative system of training and employment to enable poor persons to break the cycle of poverty; and the development of a definitive system of social services separate and apart from income maintenance.

The statement also outlined the group’s concern about the bill’s “clear weaknesses”: The stated minimum income level is too low; the work requirement for mothers of all but pre-school children was “both unreasonable and impracticable,” and, in addition, the legislation’s exclusion of single persons and childless couples was based on “artificial criteria.” Among other aspects of the proposed legislation cited as undesirable were the celling on federal funds to states for social services and restricted eligibility for free services to families in the below-poverty-income category. Mr. Solender, in reading the joint statement underscored three basic principles which the organizations consider essential in the legislation’s final draft: the acknowledged welfare partnership of public and non-profit organizations; recognition of the right of each individual to accept or reject service, as well as to choose its source: authority to utilize the services of the non-profit sector through purchase or other contractual arrangements.

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