While I appreciate Sen. Daniel Moynihan's (D-N.Y.) effort to warn us that the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) provision of the Family Support Act may not work {Outlook, Nov. 25}, I would suggest that he should have thought of that before he drafted the legislation.

The fact is that the JOBS program cannot and will not succeed if success is defined as the substantial reduction in child poverty, the incorporation of unmarried mothers into the private labor market or a deep drop in their need for government income supports. And why should it? The problems the senator identifies do not "derive from behavior," as he states, but from devastating economic conditions. The JOBS provisions barely address these conditions.

JOBS intends to place welfare recipients in private-sector jobs. That's a pretty implausible goal in the midst of national recession -- plus regional recessions that have lasted throughout the "unprecedented growth" period of the middle- to late-1980s. It promises child care to women who take such jobs. This is equally implausible in the midst of a child care crunch -- bad enough now, without an influx of former AFDC recipients into the market.

As has recently become manifest, the Massachusetts Employment and Training program ("E.T. Choices"), on which the JOBS program is largely based, succeeded with smoke and mirrors. When the Massachusetts economy faltered, E.T.'s success rate dropped precipitously.

Sen. Moynihan writes that we must wait until at least the year 2000 to evaluate JOBS. But why bother? Let's reform the reform -- with a national minimum benefit standard, enhanced commitment to education and training and a public-sector employment alternative to the private labor market -- before another generation of children grows up impoverished.

FELICIA KORNBLUH Research Associate, Institute for Policy Study Washington