Giovanna Shay


In January, 1996, I began working with Mothers for Justice (MFJ), an organization of low-income women based at Christian Community Action (CCA) in New Haven, Connecticut. My intention was to do a narrative project documenting women's stories during a period of significant welfare cuts in Connecticut. The previous year, in January, 1995, the Connecticut General Assembly (General Assembly) had authorized the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services to apply for a waiver from federal law to implement strict new regulations in the state's Aid to Families with Dependant Children (AFDC) program. The new measures, most of which became effective January 1, 1996, included a 21-month durational limit on AFDC benefits; a "family cap" limiting the increase in a family's benefits for an infant born after ten months of participation in the AFDC program to an amount equal to 50% of the usual benefits increase awarded upon birth of a child; a reduction in AFDC benefit payments from 78% to 73% of the standard of need; a reduction of AFDC benefits for those families living in public housing by 8% of the standard of need (the putative "value" of the public housing); and adoption of a "biometric identifier system" (fingerprinting) for AFDC and General Assistance (GA) recipients.

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