Welfare Reform Benefitted The Poor

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Has Welfare Reform Benefitted The Poor? Before addressing this question, I thought it necessary to review some background information in regards to the history of poverty in America and the establishment of government welfare programs in response to it. During the 19th Century there were no federally funded welfare programs, aid for the poor was community based by private organizations, churches and small state programs. The Great Depression of the 1930’s caused massive unemployment and reduced the average American family’s income by forty percent. The federal government intervened with work and public relief programs; these programs were small and generally limited to widows and orphans. In 1935 as part of the Social Security Act President…show more content…
As the Civil Rights movement intensified so did the population of Americans living below the federal poverty threshold (Song, 2001). President Johnson responded by declaring “war on poverty”. He proposed and Congress passed the Economic Opportunity Act, which established the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO). The OEO administered federal funds to finance social welfare programs to states and local governments. Medicaid, Food Stamps, SSI, and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) were added to the already established AFDC welfare program. The years following the Economic Opportunity Act brought with them a 34 percent increase to the welfare caseloads (Besharov, 2006). The main reason that a poor family became eligible for AFDC was that the father was absent. As stated earlier; in 1935 widows, supported fifty percent of children receiving benefits; by 1983 divorce, separation and out of wedlock births became the primary reason of being a single mother. By 1995, unmarried mothers headed almost 60 percent of all AFDC families, with a growing number of them resulting from births to teen mothers. In other words, the majority of welfare mothers shifted from widowed, separated, divorced women to poorly educated, never married women who had no income other than welfare. Adding to the dysfunction, AFDC placed no demand that welfare recipients obtain work, and little…show more content…
From the looks of things it was not giving anything of value to poor families, in actuality it was taking things of value from them. Keep in mind the US Census Bureaus’ claim that there are two main reasons American children are poor; one their parent’s don’t work much and two fathers are absent from the home. The truth of the matter was the ADFC program of the 60’s and 70’s was subsidizing poverty and creating what it sought to eliminate. (Snyder, 2004). The most widely cited impact of welfare reform was the decline in the welfare caseload, according to Baiver (2002), the number of families receiving welfare fell by 56 percent between 1994 and 2000. However, the success of welfare reform cannot be determined solely on the decrease of welfare caseloads; more important is the question what has happened to the children and families who have left the welfare system? More than 40 studies conducted by states since 1996 showed that about 60 percent of the adults who left welfare were employed. More notable was national data from the census bureau showing that between 1993 and 2000 the percentage of low income, single mothers, with jobs, grew from 58 percent to nearly 75 percent. Employment among never married, the most disadvantaged and least educated subgroup of single mothers , grew from 44 percent to 66 percent an increase of 50 percent over the same period(Haskins, 2011). Throughout this period, child poverty fell and
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