Thursday, September 13, 2007


I read this interesting article this morning and it’s been on my mind all day.

Mayor Bloomberg (NYC) has launched a $50 million pilot project (private, not public funds) to pay poor families to do the right thing.

Get your kid a library card ..get paid $50

Take your kid to the dentist for his 6 month check up..... $100

Annual check up.... $200

Your kid passes a standardized test....$300

Statics show that if a family is on public assistance, the odds are more favorable than not that the children they produce will also be on public assistance when they become adults.

So, Mayor Bloomberg is giving these families a positive incentive to break the cycle. I’m all for that.

For two years, when my three children were young, I had to go on public assistance. I was a single mother going to college without any support from their father.

When I graduated, I got a job and promptly said my goodbyes to that ‘welfare’ nightmare.

There were times when I would be sitting in the lobby of the social service office, waiting for my case worker to call my name, and someone next to me would strike up an unsolicited conversation with me and tell me how I could get more assistance if I wanted. "Have another baby, after 4 kids they give you a furniture allowance." "Make sure your kids are dressed in rags when you come here, your kids look too clean." I never ran into a person there that wanted to get off of public assistance.

All I wanted was get a good college education, get off of public assistance, and start living a better, more productive life for me and my children.

And I did.

For many years after, a case worker would call me once a year to take a survey regarding the status of my children and my finances. I would answer honestly to all her questions. And she would commend me for becoming what she considered a ‘success story’ for staying off of public assistance.

I honestly believe that the program will work; hopefully for the parents to better themselves and most likely for the children, who will be receiving the tools they need to succeed in life.

Sometimes all we need is a direction, a goal, an incentive to break out of a cycle.


Dawn said...

Very interesting indeed! And good for you!!

Monica said...

I hope you are feeling better!

But do you think paying people is the best way to go? Honestly, I'm not dissing it. I just don't know and I'm a little jealous. I haven't seen any breaks for the middle class and boy we could use some help too! But I know at the same time I should just be grateful to not need assistance and I'm well aware that 2 missing paychecks could probably send us spiraling there. It's interesting.