Take It From Me

An intimate look at how welfare reform affects the lives of four women.
Year Released
Film Length(s)
75 mins
Remote video URL


Captured over two years, Take It From Me is a feature-length documentary about four women struggling against great odds to raise themselves and their families out of poverty in New York City.

Featured review

Anyone who seeks to understand poverty should see this film.
Professor David Ellwood
Harvard Kennedy School


Take It From Me is the story of four women struggling against great odds to raise themselves and their families out of the poverty in New York City. It is also an in-depth look at the human impact of the 1996 Personal Responsibility Act and its five-year limit on public assistance. Has welfare reform been successful? Are former public assistance recipients better off once they no longer receive public assistance? Shot over a two-year period, Take It From Me lets the film's participants speak for themselves. Premiered on PBS’ POV series in 2001.


Take It From Me is riveting -- the visual equivalent of a book you can't put down.
Professor Peter Edelman
Georgetown University Law Center
Take It From Me illuminates the complexity of poverty and the erroneous simplicity of much government policy… a powerful, heartfelt documentary.
Julie Salamon
The New York Times
Take It From Me goes behind the numbers… Here are scenes with more emotional impact than a dozen government reports.
Terry Kelleher
People Magazine
Abt rips your heart out and then stomps on it. Take It From Me is a desperate ride.
Irv Letofsky
Hollywood Reporter
The gem of PBS' prestigious POV 2000 line-up.
Vibe Magazine
Vibe Magazine

Awards and Screenings

PBS’ POV, 2001
Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film & Digital Media, 2002
National Women's Studies Association, 2003
People Magazine “Pick of the Week”, 2001

Director Commentary

As a former caseworker in New York City, I was often privy to the frustration of my clients and felt compelled to help share their stories. The majority of public assistance recipients are disadvantaged mothers who deserve our empathy and support. I hope Take It From Me helps audiences understand what many women and their families are up against as they try to transition from welfare to work. Take It From Me aims to capture both the pain and beauty of their struggle.

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Director's Commentary
  • DVD Extras
  • Resources for Educators

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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