The issues surrounding welfare and welfare reform are controversial, political, and difficult to resolve. The debate continues today as to who deserves benefits and who does not. In 1933, President Roosevelt created Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) as part of the New Deal. This early form of welfare was available to those who could demonstrate a need and the ability to maintain minimal assets of their own. It specifically targeted aid to single women with children. It was a controversial and highly debated subject. Even now, many years later, Congress continues to debate and reform welfare programs. It still brings with it the same intensity, controversy, and conflicting opinion it did years ago.
Through research, personal interviews, and first-hand knowledge, I will demonstrate how the Welfare Assistance Program in New York State is nothing short of a parasite, which drains its recipients of their dignity, ambition and dreams of a better life while disguising itself as temporary aid to those in need. In order to understand this subject, the best place to start is the beginning of the process. To receive benefits, one must first meet eligibility requirements. These requirements are regularly updated and published by The New York Public Welfare Association (New York Public Welfare Association, 2011). The NYPWA states that a social workers review the income, size of family, and demonstration of need of all its applicants. Factors such as medical emergencies, pregnancy, homelessness, or unemployment are most common need factors seen when reviewing applications.
The screening process is rigorous and applicants must have all supporting documentation to their claims such as paystubs, among other forms of income. Medical documentation, proof of housing and utility costs along with birth certificates and social security cards are used to verify the identity of applicants and to prevent fraud.
After a social worker scrutinizes every being of the applicant’s existence and gaining approval, the recipient of benefits has feelings of hope and relief. “It was like a life preserver saved me from drowning” (D. Sobolewski, personal communication November 30, 2011) is the way one of my employees put it. The future no longer seems so dark and hopeless anymore.
This young woman is a mother of two and is single. Her current salary is nine dollars an hour. This is not a wage high enough for her to support herself; let alone two children. Sometimes I would overhear some of her phone conversations, revealing that she struggles on a daily basis to make ends meet. I fought tooth and nail with our Director of Operations for him to allow me to give her a pay increase. Her employment record was exemplary. She had earned the raise I had offered her because of her ability and her job performance. To my absolute amazement, she declined my offer to raise her salary. Her reasoning behind the raise refusal was it would hurt...