Welfare Reform Essay Research Paper Welfare Reform — страница 3

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marriage. Instead of policies acknowledging the changing lifestyles in society and creating social policies that would provide assistance to all types of families, welfare recipients have been made the target of punitive and problematic policies (Rose 2000). The stern sanction for failure to comply with the requirement assumes that mothers are not telling the truth or that they are deliberately with holding information about the father. Women are required to provide this information before they would be considered eligible to receive benefits (Cahn 1997). This has transformed welfare into a condemnation of the mother’s morality, rather than a program for meeting the needs of children. The cooperation requirement is simply another example of an attempt to impose morality on

women. Women must meet certain standards of responsibility not just how much she must report, but also in the behavior she is reporting. There seems to be no understanding of the loss of dignity that accompanies questions regarding the woman’s sexual history. Many states have developed paternity questionnaires that ask about sexual activity around the time that the child was conceived (Cahn 1997). Especially in light of the historical treatment of African-American women’s sexuality in this country, the cooperation requirement is particularly punitive. Women are also required to relinquish their rights to receive child support and assign all rights to the state. Federal regulation requires the state to define “cooperation” to include providing information during an

interview with the local child support office, and even testifying at child support hearings. Recipients may be excused from providing the necessary information by stating “good cause”. However, the burden of proof is on the recipient and often times it becomes an issue of the state worker determining if the cause is indeed legitimate. For example in one documented case, the recipients grant was cut by more than fifty percent because of her alleged noncooperation. The recipient reported the father’s name, birthplace, and previous work place, but did not have his social security number. Her “good cause” was the basic reason was simply not having knowledge of this information. The state worker then decided based on the length of the relationship between the recipient and

the father, she should know more about the father and concluded that she was not cooperating (Cahn 1997). Poverty does correlate with the absence of a father, which is the most common reason for women to begin receiving state assistance (Cahn 1997). This is due to women’s lower earning ability and the economic structure, rather than the absence of another parent in the family. African-American children in two-parent households still have much higher poverty rates than do white children who are in single-parent households (Cahn 1997). To simply require the paternal presence is not a guarantor of prosperity especially in light of the limited job opportunities for minority men. The other issue is a present father is not always a “good thing”. “More than half of all

participants in welfare-to-work programs appear to be domestic violence victims” (Sherman et al., 1998). Numerous studies show that children are healthier in a violence free environment, even if it means one without a father. While the cooperation requirement includes an exemption for good cause, it is often not used (Cahn 1997). The problems with child support collection efforts go far beyond issues of cooperation. One study of custodial parents who had not yet obtained a child support order found that all of the mothers had provided the fathers name, 75% had provided his home address, 54% had provided his social security number, and 50% had given his home address (Cahn 1997). The establishment of paternity appears to depend instead on the competency and efficiency of the

child support agency as evidenced by the lawsuits against collection agencies and the studies on the amount of cooperation (1997). Given the above facts, noncooperation by the mother is not nearly as important as improving collection procedures within social service agencies. Family Caps Society views women who have additional children while on welfare as immoral, irresponsible, and undeserving, in contrast to wealthier woman who can “afford” to have children. The “family caps” policy prohibits the increase of payments for additional children born to a woman already receiving aid (Rose 2000). The inaccurate theory of poor women having more children because of the financial incentives has mandated such policies of obvious discrimination and control of poor women. Although