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

child protection and welfare. When brought together these new laws were hoped to decrease the dependency of welfare recipients. According to statistics. This law created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. PRWORA also superseded the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program of 1988.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). much less assisting the recent prey of the failing economy. and even abstinence education (Public Law 104-193 ).S. The average monthly number of cash assistance . child care provisions. economy in a nose-dive and unemployment rates steadily rising. and curb immigration into the United States.Lee 2 With the U. which took the place of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program enacted in 1935. food stamps and commodity distribution. and to elaborate on how the past two decades¶ laws have affected overall poverty numbers in the United States. 1996. Blackman and Hornblower 30-35). they have done just that. made up 2. child nutrition programs. I sometimes wonder if our government¶s welfare programs are holding up to the increase of families in poverty. The AFDC program. These programs may not even be performing their intended function. increase employment of those being assisted by welfare.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.7% of the federal budget in 1994 (Lacayo. Family welfare policies were greatly changed by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) (Public Law 104-193 ). Primarily intended to decrease the number of welfare recipients. child support services (to be provided by each state). How have these programs . signed into law by Bill Clinton on August 22. along with the Food Stamp program. restrictions on welfare and public benefits for aliens.

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. and maternal depression has been shown to deeply suppress children¶s development. these programs have had positive and negative effects on different groups of people. Many mothers reported having to decrease the size of meals to compensate the difference in wages and government benefit amounts previously drawn (Fuller. A 2002 research report from the Policy Analysis for California Education at the University of California. Another report reveals that of the persons who have discontinued using the TANF program. Kagan and Loeb 8-11). but still lived below the national poverty line. no steady increases were found in improved pro-learning parenting practices.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). even in homes where the mother went to work. however. In addition to effectively decreasing the number of those dependent on welfare. No decreases in child welfare were apparent. one third to one fifth end up returning to it within one year (Acs and Loprest). such as reading with 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. Connecticut. These women were also found to have twice the national rate of clinical depression among them. setting routines for meals or bed-time. When the TANF program has come up for reauthorization. Kagan and Loeb). The report¶s findings reveal that most women that had moved into low-wage jobs had gainful increases in their income. One affected group is single mothers and their children. and Florida (Fuller. child care provisions in the legislation were not adequate enough . Monetary increases were not significant enough for these women to move their families into better housing in better neighborhoods.

they could have worked and paid in taxes for over half their lives. Some headway has been made for legal immigrants. uninsured numbers increased by eight to eleven-and-a-half percent among foreign born single mothers with little education (Kaushal and Kaestner 61). originally introduced to Congress in 2007. though: President Barack Obama signed the Children¶s Health Insurance Program Renewal Act (Public Law 111-3) into law just this February. Though many legal immigrants do not have citizenship. and are therefore legal citizens.S. and they would still be considered ineligible for certain benefits we as citizens have a right to access. Welfare assistance for legal immigrants has been cut in the past years. and elderly and disabled immigrants are among them. and child care assistance is on the chopping block (Mezey). and most are ineligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Over forty percent of the federal budget cuts made through the PRWORA bill pertained to banning immigrants from eligibility for welfare programs. Immigrants age 65 and older made up nine-and-a-half percent of the U. though immigrants only made up five percent of welfare recipients at the time. The Immigrant Children¶s Health Improvement Act. Since a little more than one third of monthly income for lowincome mothers is used for child care (Mezey). Since welfare reform¶s big debut in 1996. Many legal immigrants are affected by welfare reform. This bill renewed the original CHIP and provides more funds for an insurance subsidy program for children of low-income families. single mothers and their children. Non-citizen immigrants are not eligible for nearly all tax-funded welfare programs.Lee 4 for low-income families to work and afford child care. the necessity for child care assistance being included in any future welfare reform legislation is now greater than ever. was included in the CHIP renewal legislation and . population in 2000 (Rogers and Raymer). many of their children were born in the United States. Numerous states are cutting or have cut programs for low-income families due to dwindling TANF funds.

Data and information researched indicates low-income single mothers and their children. Other improvements in aid for legal immigrants: Children.´ as Thomas Jefferson stated in our beloved constitution. I am sure those negatively affected by welfare restrictions and bans would greatly appreciate any further inclusions in assistance eligibility. considering our country was founded by immigrants. states are now allowed to include immigrants for cash assistance (National Immigration Law Center). disabled immigrants and refugees are now eligible for food stamps. Immigrants were negatively affected in every aspect of welfare reform. others were affected. . At any rate. and the pursuit of happiness. immigrants are beginning to get some of their rights back. SSI benefits can now be obtained by disabled immigrants that were in the country from 1996 and back. nor in as large numbers.S (Meckler). but not nearly as significantly. Most Americans could probably trace their roots back to an immigrant. liberty. Perhaps in the future we will better learn from our mistakes as a nation and move forward with our fiercely defended rights to ³life. only in the last few years have legislators begun to re-establish access to public assistance programs for immigrants and their families. as well as by refugees (for the first nine years living in the U.) . Most effects on single women and their children were positive. this was not always the case. pregnant immigrant women are covered under Medicaid in many states.Lee 5 was supported by over 600 organizations in the U. unless they are primarily of Native American origin or descended from those kidnapped from their home lands and sold into slavery. though as I have found through research. and immigrants to be the largest groups affected by the welfare reform laws over the last two decades. which some would argue were extremely harsh in the first place. 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.S.

and P. Meckler. Fact Sheet. "Children's Health Bill Aids Legal Immigrants. Washington. NY. D.4 (2001): 525(37). G. "Welfare Reform and Health of Immigrant Women and their Children. CA. New York. University of California Berkeley. Lacayo. Sharon Lynn Kagan and Susanna Loeb. Los Angeles." The Wall Street Journal 13 January 2009: A14. Kaushal. "Ending welfare as we know it: A reform still in progress. Technical Report. PACE. Facts About New State Option to Provide Health Coverage to Immigrant Children and Pregnant Women. Policy Analysis for California Education. CA: National Immigration Law Center." Political Science Quarterly 116.Lee 6 Works Cited Acs. Demetrios James. Bruce. Yale University. Neeraj and Robert Kaestner. Berkeley. Making the Case for Increasing Federal Child Care Funding. Fuller." TIME 19 December 1994: 30-35. and Florida. Jennifer. Loprest." Journal of Immigrant anf Minority Health 9.2 (2007): 61. Initial systhesis report of the findings from ASPE's "leavers" grants. National Immigration Law Center. Columbia University. "Down on the Downtrodden. Richard.: Washington Services. Washington. Laura. New Lives for Poor Families? Mothers and Young Children Move through Welfare Reform. . Berkeley: Graduate School of Education. 2002. 2009. 2001.C.C. 2003. Stanford University. The Growing Up in Poverty Wave 2 Findings: California. Mezey. Caraley. et al.: Center for Law and Social Policy. D. Connecticut. Fact Sheet.

(R-Florida). and J.R. Jr. Pallone. 10 December 2009 <http://thomas.104>. Frank.loc. Clay Shaw. 12 December 2009 <http://frwebgate.access. E.1 (2001): 44-55. (New Jersey). "Public Law Rogers. U.2:>. . Jr." 22 August 1996.cgi?dbname=104_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ193. The Library of Congress.S.Lee 7 Rep. "Public Law 104-193 ." 4 February Raymer. "Immigration and the regional demographics of the elderly population in the United States.gpo. Rep. Government Printing Office (GPO). A." Journal of Gerontology 56.

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