How Will it Fare?
What is Welfare?
Welfare was established to help people in need. This includes helping people who are unemployed, have a low income that qualifies, or other people who require assistance; most of these money resources come from the government agency or other program (1).
When and how did welfare begin in the United States?
The need for welfare was great in the 1930's during the Great Depression (2). Millions of people were thrown out of their jobs, left with no other options. High numbers of fathers left their families and fled to elsewhere, and left their family to survive by their own means. Before the Great Depression, community charities helped the poor and needy, but the downfall of the economy hit everyone hard, and the people that helped the poor, now had a need to achieve their own survival. Schools began to close, families were left homeless, wandering the streets. The elderly suffered because they had no money to live on. While Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) rushed to create more jobs, he also began to back an idea that would give aid to poor children and other dependent people (2).
In FDR’s State of the Union address, he included that he planned on creating old-age insurance program, federal unemployment and benefits for dependent people and poor single mothers with children. Welfare finally became a federal responsibility under the Social Security (link to jesses page) Act on August 18, 1935. This act made is so that states had to contribute one-third that the federal government gave to needy, dependent children, as well as old people, crippled children and the needy blind. States had the power to right the programs’ eligibility and benefit level. This did not create equality and at first did not help all the people that truly needed it. Over the years strong resentment grew, as the welfare system funding grew larger in the federal expenditure. The program that upset people the most was the “Aid to families with Dependent Children,”(AFDC) because the average working person was upset that an able body citizen lived off the federal system they paid into. In 1996, President Bill Clinton returned most of the welfare system responsibility to the states power (2).
Welfare’s reforming troubles in the 1990'sIn August 1996 President Clinton signed in Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. Under this act the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families was to replace the unfavorable Aid to families with Dependent Children and to switch welfare programs out of federal power to states, in which the states were to support the welfare recipients by helping them move into the workforce.(2) The government was now only to federally fund the food stamps program and HUD housing programs (3). The federal government had the rules in which the state was to base the formation of their program around:
“Adults receiving family cash-aid benefits must go to work within two years. States may exempt a parent with a child under 1 for no more than 12 months.
States had to have 25 percent of their welfare caseloads at work in 1997 and 50 percent of their caseloads at work by 2002. States who fail to meet these requirements will lose 5 percent of their federal block grants.
Each adult is limited to no more than five years of cash assistance during his or her lifetime. But states may exempt up to 20 percent of their caseloads from this limit” (2).
The act created hardship for families that needed welfare, because funds and aid that had been going to the families were reduced greatly. Also most legal immigrants entering the country were now excluded in receiving any of the welfare funds including food stamps, medicaid(link), and cash welfare until they lived in the United States for five years (2,4).
Provisions Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
This welfare program is to help needy families and provide them with cash assistance and with other needs they need in order to maintain survival. 90% of the participants are women, mainly single mothers. Eligibility is determined by the providing state, which sets up how the program, followed by federal regulations. “TANF is a block grant which requires work in exchange for time-limited assistance. Block grants are lump sum funds allocated to states by the federal government”(4). Under TANF, 50% of the participants are required to do a 30-hour work activities, which include community service, on-the-job training, subsidized or unsubsidized employment, or in a vocational center if available in the area. People who have not received their diploma are allowed to spend time working for their GED. Also an additional ten hours can be spent in work-related or education related activities. Under the “universal engagement,” all participants must be involved in a work-related activity after two years of assistance (4).
TANF has a five year assistance limit to people receiving aid in most cases. Some states have longer terms to provide care, while two state has no limit providing assistance to the needy. Exemptions to this rule are offered to people who have disabilities, victims of domestic violence, taking care of young children, are in a community with high unemployment rates (4).
Welfare and the Bush Administration Wants
–Wants to extend current 30 hour work related week to 40 hour work related week.
–Has expectations to raise welfare recipients that hold jobs to be increases from 50% to 70% by 2008.
–Supplying more money to encourage marriage strengthening programs
–Excluding education as being part of work related activities
–“Freezing federal funding for cash assistance at 1996 levels”(3).
1"Welfare." MSN Encarta Dictionary. 26 Mar. 2007
2"Welfare." Constitutional Rights Foundation. 1998. 26 Mar.2007 <http://www.crf-usa.org/bria/bria14_3.html>.
3"Welfare Policy Issues." News Batch. 2 Apr. 2007 <http://www.newsbatch.com/welfare.htm>.
4"Welfare Facts At a Glance." Economic Policy Institute. 31 Oct. 2003. 2 Apr. 2007 <http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/issueguide_welfare_facts>.