About 300,000 more persons in single-parent families lived in extreme poverty in 1998 than 1996. This primarily reflects an increase in the number of low-income families that left or chose not to enroll in government support programs. Increasing enrollment in government safety net programs could make a big difference. In 1998, if all families with children participated in the post-reform government safety net programs for which they qualified, poverty would have been 20 percent lower and extreme poverty would have been 70 percent lower. These poverty improvements provide a strong rationale for changing existing programs to provide "family-friendly" delivery systems and more standardized eligibility requirements. These changes could maximize the number of families that take advantage of government safety net programs.
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