Research Paper on Welfare Reform
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Sample research paper on Welfare Reform:
Social policies and public reform have been consistently at the forefront of American minds. Welfare reform has been a major controversy in the realm of social policy. Most Americans support the idea of equality, one of the values that our nation was founded on, although there seems to be no general agreement on how the government should alleviate poverty. The American welfare system as it is in its present state degrades the beneficiaries and serves to enrich the administrators. If the objective is to reduce poverty and promote self-sufficiency then the right signals are given off but the system is failing in practice. The key to reforming would be to combine work with education and training to help attain skills to increase beyond an entry-level position. To fully reform, the government must integrate developmental efforts in the welfare, work force, education and economic development area in an effort to create a stronger state and move people out of poverty and into self-sufficiency.
Welfare was introduced in 1936 under a program entitled Aid to Dependent Children and it provided cash for low-income families with children. The number of people in the household and the total monthly income was the determining factor of an individual’s eligibility. For a household consisting of 4 people, if the income were less than $643, then you would be eligible. Recipients were required to enroll in an Employment First course that taught educational, social and work ethics to move individuals to a state of self-support. With good intentions, the welfare system did not receive much of the publics support, with the constant argument being that welfare was anti-work, anti-family and responsible for the breakdown of the family.
The idea of welfare reforms realistically sound perfect, assist low-income families while helping them to get on their feet. However there are some factors not taking into consideration and the government fails to provide a safety net, sending most of these families back down into poverty.
In 1994, President Clinton introduced the Work and Responsibility Act, which was similar to the Family Support Act, which placed emphasis on moving people into jobs with increases in funding for education and training. The notable difference between the two was that the Work and Responsibility Act limited recipients to a two-year limit after which they must work or lose benefits. In the latter part of 1994, elections led Republicans into the house to propose their Personal Responsibility Act ( PRA) which differed sharply from Clinton’s plans. The House enacted the PRA in 1995.
The Personal Responsibility Act (PRA) would deny 42% of current recipients further assistance and reduce benefits of at least 30% of current cases, increasing the amount of poverty once again. This would be done by creating blocks on grants, which focused on cash assistance, child nutrition, child protection and childcare. It also contained reforms in assistance programs such as Food Stamps, and Supplemental Security Income. Although this would save almost $70 billion in the next five years, it placed a fixed amount on money that would no longer vary based on the amount of families in need of assistance. So basically, the government would be giving out funding on a ‘first come first serve’ basis until the money ran out, leaving many families without assistance and into poverty.
After the Personal Responsibility Act was enacted, the number of families receiving welfare dropped by 58% nationwide. The sharp decline in the number of recipients can be hailed as a sign that welfare reform is working, although former welfare recipients are not paid enough to fully remove their families out of poverty.
The welfare reform is meeting the publics demands that people work in return for assistance, but its failing to meets its objective and only moving a few families totally out of poverty. With these new reforms, most recipients leave within two years but they return as quickly. Those returning are part of a disadvantaged group, suffering from mental conditions and no work experience, which prevents them from maintaining a job and moving from entry-level positions in the work force to a position that provides adequate pay for satisfactory living.
These new changes must address both health barriers and educational barriers to employment prior to reaching the time limits on assistance and cutting it off. A great portion of welfare recipients suffers from chronic substance abuse and mental health, which requires attention before “dumping” them into the workforce. Those on welfare are five times more likely to report they did not seek employment due to medical problems and 10-20% have substance abuse problems. Jobs are not the cure to these problems. Perhaps if the government spent half as much money on treatment for these cases, as they did campaigns and wars, then you would see a result in higher productivity, employment and independence from the system. The government fails to acknowledge that it’s not about job placement but working to keep it and avoid returning to welfare.
Poverty in America could be a result of imperfections in the economic systems as well as a direct result of individual irresponsibility. This creates two groups at the bottom of the social class, the “deserving poor” and the “undeserving poor”. Not knowing who is a part of which group, it is difficult to reform welfare.