The Role Of Education In Welfare Reform

1894 words - 8 pages

Since the enactment of the Welfare Reform Act in 1996; the new changes have been instrumental in decreasing the number of welfare caseloads and unemployment rates. Many would argue that the reforms for welfare have not been active in requiring that welfare recipients improve their education, skills and job market ability. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program requires welfare recipients to search for a job first in exchange for cash assistance and other welfare benefits. It is also recommended that those who have not earned their high school diploma or equivalent return to school or training program to complete their diplomas while collecting welfare benefits. Welfare recipients are exempt from the time limitation or work requirements only if they are full-time students. This exemption is only valid for 24 months in most states. This time frame is enough time to complete an Associate degree, post-secondary training or career goals in order to qualify for better paying jobs; however they should be allotted more time to complete their high school and some college education.
According to the National Centers for Education Statistics, the annual income for young adults between the ages of 25-34 working full time with a bachelor’s degree earned $45,000; with an associate degree the income was $37,000. The median income for those with a high school diploma or GED was $30,000, while those without it earned $22,900. The goal for all welfare recipients should be to use the time wisely while they are collecting benefits to improve their skills and education so that they qualify for a job that will support their families without a need for assistance from the state welfare system. Studies have shown that obtaining a college degree gives a job seeker a huge advantage at securing a job that will provide the financial freedom needed to end their dependency on the welfare system and also the cycle of poverty. According to an article written by Gayle Hamilton and Judith M. Gueron called “The Role of Education and Training in Welfare Reform” highlights how single mothers collecting welfare benefits have been pressured to find jobs instead of pursuing an education. These women are only able to secure low-paying jobs that will keep them living in poverty.
The work history, education and skills for all welfare recipients should be carefully reviewed by case managers prior to requiring the recipient to look for a full time job. If a need for improvement is uncovered, an effective action plan needs to be created to help these recipients find and secure a job that pays well above the poverty limit. An education beyond high school makes a job seeker more marketable to perspective employers. Welfare recipients who have not completed their high school diplomas are in danger of ending up with a low-paying, dead end jobs that has little to no opportunity for advancement or economic autonomy. These type of jobs will most likely never provide them...

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