Welfare Reform Essay Research Paper Welfare Reform — страница 2

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1996). As reported in a study published by the Michigan Law Review, “While it is true that, proportionately, there are more African American recipients of welfare than white recipients, and proportionately, there are more blacks living in poverty than whites” (Cahn 1997). The media’s public picture of welfare recipients and images of poor people are not just class based; they also rely on stereotypes of gendered and raced behavior. In a recent study published in the American Political Science Review found, “Although blacks represent only 37% of welfare recipients, perceptions of black welfare mothers dominate whites’ evaluations of welfare and their preferences with regard to welfare spending” (Gilens, p. 601, 1997). For the purpose of this research, I will

demonstrate how in contemporary culture, public welfare, race, class and gender are centrally connected. Changing welfare to workfare Despite promises of welfare reform “easing the transition from welfare to work,” the law has, if anything made the transition more difficult. Studies in nine states by the National Governors’ Association and other organizations found that between 40 percent and 50 percent of those who left TANF had no job at all (Sherman et al., 1998, 8, 49). Considering workforce discrimination and the lack of affordable childcare working outside the home is increasingly difficult for single mothers. If a key goal of welfare reform is to move recipients into jobs, they will need day care for their children. Studies show that working mothers with incomes

below the poverty line pay a much greater share of their income for child care than do other working mothers. Overview of current federal initiatives finds that it is the working poor who receive the least child care assistance. Federal involvement in the childcare market has been justified as a means of offsetting the cost of children, as a work incentive for low-income parents and as an investment in the education and development of children. On these grounds, the federal government provides support for childcare through tax credits, direct block grants, and supportive services. The largest source is the nonrefundable Dependent Care Tax Credit, which offsets the working parent’s childcare expenses via the tax system ( ). Most of the 6 million families receiving this credit

are middle and upper class income, since the credit is not available to families too poor to pay taxes. PRWORA fundamentally changed federal child care assistance programs for low-income families. The legislation created the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) by consolidating several major federal subsidy programs. Although PRWOCA has eliminated the entitlement to child care assistance as well, it also provided an increase in federal funding of 27% in its first year (Long, Kirby, Kurka, & Waters 1998). However, despite improvements in federal funding, the state have the authoritiy to independenly set the eligibility income as long as it does not exceed the federal maximum of 75% of the state medial income (SMI) (Long et al., 1998). With the exception of seven states,

Program eligibility rules and provider reimbursement rates vary widely across the states and in some cases across programs within a state (Sherman et al., 1998). The current system is criticized as unnecessarily fragmented due to multiple funding streams and program rules (Long, Kirby, Kurka, & Waters, 1998). Even in states that have effectively created childcare systems that are “seamless” to the families served, the system is complex and difficult to administer. Texas has maintained a waiting list of 40,000 poor children for daycare and California has maintained a waiting list of 225,000 poor children with low income mothers waiting up to two years to receive child care subsidy (Sherman et al., 1998). Another factor that discourages many welfare recipients from working

is their fear of losing health insurance coverage. According to one study, making generous health insurance benefits available to all female workers would raise the employment rate of all heads of family’s 16 percentage points and reduce TAFN caseloads by 20 to 25 percent (Sherman et al., 1998). The Cooperation Requirement Underlying the cooperation requirements are assumptions of noncooperation, irresponsibility, and immorality. Federal welfare reform bills have focused on parental responsibility in hopes of child support reimbursing welfare costs. The government also offers an incentive to the state in the form of bonuses for reducing the “illegitimacy ratio” (Rose 2000). An increasing number of women of all races and income levels are choosing to have children outside of