Meeting the Needs of the Needy: The Effects of Welfare Reform in the United States
Diana Lee Mrs. Emily Sims English 101 Section 39 14 December 2009
This law created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. they have done just that. restrictions on welfare and public benefits for aliens. economy in a nose-dive and unemployment rates steadily rising. 1996. much less assisting the recent prey of the failing economy. Blackman and Hornblower 30-35). along with the Food Stamp program. I sometimes wonder if our government¶s welfare programs are holding up to the increase of families in poverty. These programs may not even be performing their intended function. The average monthly number of cash assistance
. Family welfare policies were greatly changed by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) (Public Law 104-193 ).S. child care provisions.and the welfare reform laws they were born from ± affected different groupings of low-income persons and families? The primary purpose of this essay is to address this question. and to elaborate on how the past two decades¶ laws have affected overall poverty numbers in the United States.7% of the federal budget in 1994 (Lacayo. and curb immigration into the United States. How have these programs . PRWORA also superseded the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program of 1988. sections of PRWORA also included: eligibility restrictions for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). child protection and welfare. increase employment of those being assisted by welfare. child support services (to be provided by each state). According to statistics. food stamps and commodity distribution. child nutrition programs. signed into law by Bill Clinton on August 22. When brought together these new laws were hoped to decrease the dependency of welfare recipients. which took the place of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program enacted in 1935. Primarily intended to decrease the number of welfare recipients. made up 2. and even abstinence education (Public Law 104-193 ). The AFDC program.Lee 2
With the U.
When the TANF program has come up for reauthorization. Children that were placed in center-based care programs so their parents could enter the workforce showed considerably better cognitive and school readiness skills than those who were in care programs based in a home. Connecticut. Kagan and Loeb). Monetary increases were not significant enough for these women to move their families into better housing in better neighborhoods. A 2002 research report from the Policy Analysis for California Education at the University of California. one third to one fifth end up returning to it within one year (Acs and Loprest). Many mothers reported having to decrease the size of meals to compensate the difference in wages and government benefit amounts previously drawn (Fuller. these programs have had positive and negative effects on different groups of people. however. but still lived below the national poverty line. Kagan and Loeb 8-11).Lee 3 recipients declined from about twelve-and-a half million in 1996 to just over seven million in 1999 ± a forty percent drop (Caraley 525). child care provisions in the legislation were not adequate enough
. and maternal depression has been shown to deeply suppress children¶s development. no steady increases were found in improved pro-learning parenting practices. No decreases in child welfare were apparent. and Florida (Fuller. One affected group is single mothers and their children. Berkeley studied a group of 948 mothers and young children two to four years after the women entered new welfare programs in California. even in homes where the mother went to work. In addition to effectively decreasing the number of those dependent on welfare. The report¶s findings reveal that most women that had moved into low-wage jobs had gainful increases in their income. such as reading with their children. setting routines for meals or bed-time. These women were also found to have twice the national rate of clinical depression among them. Another report reveals that of the persons who have discontinued using the TANF program.
Many legal immigrants are affected by welfare reform. single mothers and their children. Immigrants age 65 and older made up nine-and-a-half percent of the U. Since welfare reform¶s big debut in 1996. Over forty percent of the federal budget cuts made through the PRWORA bill pertained to banning immigrants from eligibility for welfare programs. was included in the CHIP renewal legislation and
. and most are ineligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. and they would still be considered ineligible for certain benefits we as citizens have a right to access. Some headway has been made for legal immigrants. they could have worked and paid in taxes for over half their lives. many of their children were born in the United States.S. and are therefore legal citizens. though immigrants only made up five percent of welfare recipients at the time. Though many legal immigrants do not have citizenship. The Immigrant Children¶s Health Improvement Act. Welfare assistance for legal immigrants has been cut in the past years. uninsured numbers increased by eight to eleven-and-a-half percent among foreign born single mothers with little education (Kaushal and Kaestner 61). Numerous states are cutting or have cut programs for low-income families due to dwindling TANF funds. the necessity for child care assistance being included in any future welfare reform legislation is now greater than ever. This bill renewed the original CHIP and provides more funds for an insurance subsidy program for children of low-income families. population in 2000 (Rogers and Raymer). Since a little more than one third of monthly income for lowincome mothers is used for child care (Mezey).Lee 4 for low-income families to work and afford child care. originally introduced to Congress in 2007. Non-citizen immigrants are not eligible for nearly all tax-funded welfare programs. and child care assistance is on the chopping block (Mezey). though: President Barack Obama signed the Children¶s Health Insurance Program Renewal Act (Public Law 111-3) into law just this February. and elderly and disabled immigrants are among them.
Immigrants were negatively affected in every aspect of welfare reform.) .
. considering our country was founded by immigrants. but not nearly as significantly. Most Americans could probably trace their roots back to an immigrant. only in the last few years have legislators begun to re-establish access to public assistance programs for immigrants and their families. states are now allowed to include immigrants for cash assistance (National Immigration Law Center). At any rate. Data and information researched indicates low-income single mothers and their children. Perhaps in the future we will better learn from our mistakes as a nation and move forward with our fiercely defended rights to ³life. as well as by refugees (for the first nine years living in the U.´ as Thomas Jefferson stated in our beloved constitution. Most effects on single women and their children were positive. unless they are primarily of Native American origin or descended from those kidnapped from their home lands and sold into slavery. nor in as large numbers. others were affected. liberty. and immigrants to be the largest groups affected by the welfare reform laws over the last two decades. this was not always the case. and the pursuit of happiness. These have been many steps toward the disappearance of the bans imposed on immigrants by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. disabled immigrants and refugees are now eligible for food stamps. I am sure those negatively affected by welfare restrictions and bans would greatly appreciate any further inclusions in assistance eligibility. Other improvements in aid for legal immigrants: Children. immigrants are beginning to get some of their rights back.S (Meckler). though as I have found through research. pregnant immigrant women are covered under Medicaid in many states.S. SSI benefits can now be obtained by disabled immigrants that were in the country from 1996 and back.Lee 5 was supported by over 600 organizations in the U. which some would argue were extremely harsh in the first place.
The Growing Up in Poverty Wave 2 Findings: California. Los Angeles. Fuller.Lee 6 Works Cited Acs. Stanford University. and Florida. Initial systhesis report of the findings from ASPE's "leavers" grants. "Children's Health Bill Aids Legal Immigrants. Lacayo. et al. Laura. Yale University. 2002. Demetrios James. "Ending welfare as we know it: A reform still in progress. Making the Case for Increasing Federal Child Care Funding. "Down on the Downtrodden.2 (2007): 61.4 (2001): 525(37). CA. G.C. Meckler. Loprest. Washington." TIME 19 December 1994: 30-35. Kaushal. D." Political Science Quarterly 116. Columbia University. CA: National Immigration Law Center. Fact Sheet. National Immigration Law Center. Jennifer. NY. 2009. Fact Sheet. 2001. New Lives for Poor Families? Mothers and Young Children Move through Welfare Reform. Caraley. Sharon Lynn Kagan and Susanna Loeb. University of California Berkeley.
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