Welfare Reform Essay Research Paper Welfare Reform

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Welfare Reform Essay, Research Paper Welfare Reform - 1 - Welfare Reform Introduction In August 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) passed. This legislation ended the Family Aid with Dependent Children (AFDC) and replaced it with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Unlike AFDC, TANF is not an entitlement program. This means that states are under no obligation to provide cash assistance to eligible families. Instead the federal government gives block grants to assist poor families with the emphasis on moving them from welfare to work or deterring them from applying for welfare in the first place. States are no longer obligated to match federal funds, creating an incentive to eliminate their previous portion of the

funding for critical programs. Now due to less funding and no standard rules or regulations in place, thousands of families never find out that they still qualify for health insurance, childcare or food stamps. “By eliminating the whole architecture of the old entitlement program, the federal government eliminated a lot of the existing protections for people” (Cahn pg. 1997). A recent study found, 60 percent of former welfare recipients in South Carolina did not know a parent could get transitional Medicaid, and nine states have no outreach efforts to inform parents that they were still entitled to receive childcare assistance after welfare benefits were closed (Sherman, Amey, Duffield, Ebb, & Weinstein, 1998). By denying or reducing coverage the state creates surplus

(left over) funds that they are allowed to be used in other programs. Some states even went further using part of its welfare surplus to fund tax cuts for the middle class (Rose 2000). This new popular movement is in contrary to the original purpose of programs like TANF. Sixty years ago AFDC was created to enable women to stay at home with their children and remain homemakers (Gilens 1996). When highly paid professional women leave jobs to stay home and take care of their children they are considered “good mothers”. Also, when they do decide to work outside the home they are judged as “selfish” and “bad mothers”. However, the expectation of poor women is the exact opposite. Poor women are often criticized for staying home to take care of their children and are

expected to leave the home and work for wage in order to receive the “good mother” approval from society. One reform argument is centered on the “burden” for taxpayers to support people who are not trying to help themselves. Gilens reported, “The economic self-interest explanation of welfare reform is widely assumed to be true, and debates over public policy often remain on the assumption that the middle class resent paying for programs that benefit only the poor“ (Gilens, p. 2, 1996). Reform efforts often focus on general stereotypes of welfare recipients not wanting to work and preferring to take advantage of taxpayer money. Conservatives and liberals refer to “welfare spending” as excessive and unnecessary. However, prior to the popularity of welfare reform,

the U.S. Bureau of Census reported actual money spent on AFDC was only 7% of the $613 billion spend on social welfare which included health care, veterans’ programs, education, housing, and pubic aid (tables 579, 583, 1993). With government statistics contradicting claims of excessive spending, there is legitimate suspicion regarding the real motivation for welfare reform programs. Undeniably, current reform bills seem to target the narrow population of poor minority women. Ninety five percent of TANF recipients are single women with children (Sherman et al., 1998). So there is no question who is affected most by these reform bills. Also, there have been several studies that suggest welfare-reform laws are especially discriminating against lower income women of color (Gilens