Hands to Work by Lynnell Hancock
The Stories of Three Families Racing the Welfare Clock

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In this illuminating examination of the current state of welfare policy -- five years after the start of President Bill Clinton's Personal Responsibility Act of 1996 -- award-winning veteran reporter and writer LynNell Hancock offers an intimate, heart-wrenching, and beautifully rendered portrait of three women and their families as they struggle to find their way through the new rules and regulations of the public assistance system.

"This new welfare world is an emerging, untested social experiment," the author writes, "one that has the potential to define what kind of nation we want to be, what kind of government we think is most fair. It's a political story. It's an economic story. It's a story about social reinvention. But in the end it is simply a human saga. It is about ordinary Americans trying to make a life for themselves, caught by an accident of timing in the wake of asocial experiment meant to change the course of their lives."

As she examines the laws, policies, and reforms of the last decade, Hancock introduces us to the women who try to carve their futures around America's new commitment to the power of work.

ALINA ZUKINA, a wispy refugee from the former Soviet nation of Moldova, hoped to become a doctor. She spent four years juggling a college education with a city workfare program that offered her a small check and an overcrowded schedule.CHRISTINE RIVERA, a proud Puerto Rican, was on her way to self-sufficiency when two things collided: her stubborn heroin addiction and the new welfare rules.BRENDA FIELDS, a feisty mother of two, was eager to embrace any job that might help her overcome her lack of a college degree and limited experience. Despite such resolve, she found that work did not provide all the answers.

Hands to Work adds a human dimension to the facts and statistics, revealing these three families' histories, their initiation into the system, the obstacles they've faced, the choices they've made, and the futures they seek. Hancock takes us on a journey within the dayto-day struggles of these women, describing their hopes, regrets, and deepest dreams. In so doing, she demystifies contemporary misconceptions of poverty and illustrates how welfare policy and reform have been conceived, offering a thought-provoking look at the most divisive questions about America's neediest citizens.


About Lynnell Hancock

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LynNell Hancock is an assistant professor at the Columbia School of journalism, where she served as director of the Prudential Fellowship for Children and the News, a program dedicated to improving media coverage of children's issues. She has been a writer and editor at "Newsweek, the New York "Daily News, and the "Village Voice, and now contributes to "US. News & World Report and "Parenting. She lives in Montclair, New Jersey.
Published December 1, 2001 by William Morrow. 320 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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A journalist follows the lives of three very different Bronx families as they attempt to find sustainable employment before the expiration of their welfare benefits.

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