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Personal Responsibility And Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act 1996

1439 words - 6 pages

Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act 1996In 1996, President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act which was supposed to "change welfare as we know it by requiring work in exchange for time-limited assistance" (Pomeroy, 2008, p. 1). This grew into the Temporary Assistance for Need Families (TANF) program. The program was supposed to foster self-sufficiency through work (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2006, p. 1). The challenge with this premise was that it assumed that everyone would know how to work, want to work and be successful at work. Unfortunately, this is not what has happened. Although there are many success stories about this program, a large majority of people are still long-term welfare recipients. In fact, in my opinion, many are generationally dependant which means they have grown up in the welfare system, seen their parents in the welfare system and probably have many relatives doing the same.It is unfortunate that this is happening in our country. We are supposed to be helping people get off welfare and instead, we are encouraging this dependency. I think that the welfare to work program has done more harm to people on welfare and it has created an economic tragedy for our country.Although wherever you look there are a variety of examples of how people were able to leave welfare by taking jobs, the challenge is that most have little opportunity other than menial jobs. These jobs may pay minimum wage, or they may pay a little more. According to an interview on NPR with author, Jason DeParle, the challenge with this was that people didn't get out of poverty. Instead, they moved up on the poverty line, which wasn't much better. In addition, they don't make enough money to really take care of themselves and their families. They have a little to buy food and take care of rent, but they don't have enough to purchase health insurance or other things that may be needed on the job. Welfare created the same situation but they were provided with healthcare. Without it, they have joined the ranks of the nearly 47 million people without health insurance (National Coalition on Healthcare). It is my opinion that we haven't really helped these people but instead gave them a better way to be in poverty and askOne of the greatest barriers to this program was that they took people who were already at a disadvantage. A large majority of them haven't worked before which creates the first barrier to employment, they have serious issues around employment and perhaps family, and they couldn't exist without a safety net. It also provided for work but not necessarily work activities, depending on the state requirements where they lived (Zedlewski and Loprest, 2003, p.1). Welfare workers also are the first to go when employers need to let people go because they are the least skilled. As an example, Zedlewski and Loprest also stated:…the early employment success of...

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