Homelessness, poverty, and unemployment issues are a growing concern for every American. You might be plugging away at your daily job and one day your employer fires you due to budget cuts, etc. What do you do now? Jobs are not easy to find. The job market is saturated. Someone always has better credentials than you do. You are passed over repeatedly. You have spent what little money you had in savings, possibly cashed out your 401k and still have not found viable employment. Time to look into what the government has in place to help you.
In the 1930’s, during the Great Depression, the government responded to the overwhelming need to aid families who had little or no income by creating a welfare program called Aid to Families with Dependent Children. It gave states unlimited matching funds and offered families extensive rights with few requirements and no time limits. This welfare program stayed in the hands of the U.S. government until Bill Clinton passed the Welfare Reform Act in 1996 giving the control of the welfare system to the states. This allowed each individual state to set the requirements for the type and amount of aid needed versus the previous method of having a universal set of requirements from one source.
It was believed that the welfare program initiated during the Great Depression fostered dependency on the government and was counterproductive to the purpose of the welfare system. The Heritage Foundation (2011) stated, “Since the 1960s, the U.S. has spent approximately $16 trillion on welfare. Over the next 10 years, welfare spending is projected to cost taxpayers $10.3 trillion” (para. 5). The Welfare Reform Act was enacted to reduce the amount of individuals relying on government assistance and assist them into becoming self-sufficient. Under the new act, the federal government gave the states lump sums of money annually as long as they adhered to certain criteria to help the citizens to move to be self-sufficient. The Welfare-to-Work was one initiative under this act that required recipients to work or complete authorized job related activities in exchange for financial assistance.
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