The Welfare Reform Law Essay

1117 words - 4 pages

Since the Welfare reform law was introduced in 1996 it has impacted American society greatly. The new welfare policy, named the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), replaced the Aid to Family and Dependent Children (AFDC) program; they have five known differences that only affect the ones who need the assistance. Critics argue that the TANF has negatively impacted the society while some argue that it has not. Linda Burnham, author of “Welfare Reform, Family Hardship & Woman of Color,” asserts that “welfare reform has increased the hardship faced by many women leaving welfare for work and their movement into low-wage jobs, exposes them to higher level of housing insecurities, homelessness, food insecurity, and hunger.” She also argues that women of color “are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of welfare reform” (38).
TANF and AFDC differ in many ways: 1) TANF provides a block grant to individual states, 2) there is no longer a guarantee of cash assistant to all eligible individuals, 3) recipients may receive benefits for no more than five years over a life time, 4) recipients must adhere to work requirement to receive benefits, and 5) current and future legal immigrants are denied benefits until citizenship (O’Campo & Rojas-Smith 421). The fact that TANF is restricted for a maximum of five years has adverse consequences for the needy. Five years is often too short for recipients to gain independence.
The reality that exists for these individuals is different than that which is assumed by many. People assume that recipients are lazy and that they do not want to work, or that they are very promiscuous women who have children in order to continue receiving help from the government. The realities for these individuals are that they are neither lazy nor promiscuous. These are often times women who work full time jobs in order to meet their family’s needs.
One main effort of welfare reform is to replace public assistance with earnings. To date, politicians and welfare reform advocates have applauded the efforts and claimed success. However, lurking at the surface of welfare-to-work policies are serious problems and structural impediments. Lack of jobs, low pay, job-readiness, and difficulties in securing ancillary supports like transportation and child care are obvious problems that are not easily resolved. Full-time low-wage work does not provide enough income to support families, nor does it accommodate the demands that full-time parents have. These problems plague welfare-to-work efforts and make life very difficult for poor, single-mother families. At the same time, they create an opportunity to consider the value of care giving work and to reform the nature of low-wage work. (Albeda 71)
These women also have sometimes been victims of unfortunate circumstances and their impoverished state sometimes limits their access to contraceptives which are very expensive.
Within the five years that these poor...

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