Federal and State Programs to Assist Families on Welfare

Many low-income families with children including current and former recipients of welfare and the Work First Program face significant economic hardship and insecurity, despite the fact that they work. Federal and state programs that assist low-

income working families appear to make a difference. Families who participate in these programs are less likely to return to welfare and face lower rates of poverty and hardships. But on the other hand, the program doesn’t help with education or transportation.

In recent years states have implemented a broad range of programmatic, policy and organizational changes to create assistance systems that emphasize work rather than cash assistance. The primary welfare-to-work strategy used by states to create a more work-oriented, transitional assistance system is “Work First,”(WF) a philosophy and program strategy that emphasizes helping recipients find unsubsidized employment as quickly as possible. In addition to Work First programs, states have implemented a variety of other policies that supplement and reinforce the emphasis on work.

According to www.michigan.gov, “Work First is designed to establish and maintain a connection to the labor market for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients, Non-Custodial Parents (NCPs), and recipients of non-cash assistance such as Child Day Care, Medicaid, and Food Stamps. To make this connection, participants are placed into employment and occupationally relevant education and training programs”.

Program flexibility is critical. A diverse array of personal and family challenges contributes to families’ inabilities to find or keep employment. These families also have very different strengths on which they can draw to become self-sufficient. Consequently, while some families may need limited assistance for only a short period of time, others may need intensive assistance for far longer. Because these families’ circumstances are so diverse, a broad range of services and approaches to strengthening families are needed to help them achieve self-sufficiency.

When talking to a friend of mine she stated the process of going through the steps of WF. This is their experience of going through a WF Program. Her Department of Human Resource Worker (DHRW) assigns you to a WF facility to participate in. You attend the first orientation to talk about what WF is about and they will give a description of the program in their own words answer questions a paint a pretty picture. The WF Program starts at 8:00 am to 5:00 pm no exceptions. You should already have child care services in order the first day of the Program. The recipient will take aptitude test so the coordinator will know what type of job to send you on. WF has a large binder with all of the hiring positions in no type of order, and then has to fill out a form for them to track where you went and at what time you were there. The recipient will go to the first desk make a copy for your records and theirs, get bus tickets for how many jobs you are attending and return back that day for follow up.

Even recipients going to school full time has to work at least 40 hours with a family and catching the bus doing all of this is tiresome for someone who isn’t getting welfare? That’s why some of them get caught up in welfare fraud. When looking at article from www.wikipedia.com says, Welfare fraud refers to various intentional misuses of state welfare systems by withholding information or giving false or inaccurate information. This may be done in small, uncoordinated efforts, or in larger, organized criminal rings. Some common types of welfare fraud are failing to report a household member, failure to report income, or providing false information about the “inability” to work. There have been cases of people feigning illness in conjunction with welfare fraud.

Are we even thinking about the parents or single mothers who are struggling and has never been on welfare? Many parents/single mothers are robbing Peter to pay Paul all the time without any assists of a DHS (Jennings 1993, pp.185). What about the childs welfare? When there is a single mother involved and her child is in child care when does the parent have time to spend with her child? Are we putting this in considering? When reading a piece of information from a Report to the Tennessee Department of Human Service (2004) it states:
A primary goal of the welfare reform initiatives implemented in the U.S. in the mid-1990s was to help dependent families become productive, self-sufficient member of society. Work requirements were inteded to further this process. A growing body of evidence suggests that welfare recipients are in fact participarting in various activies.

However the effects of work requirements on post-programs employement and earnings are still unclear.
Reading this says that a lot of the recipients are not documenting their earnings correctly and is getting over on the state welfare to work programs.
If the child sees mom working wouldn’t that show some type of responsibility so when the child become a adult they have something to look forward to a feel proud of their parents (Holcomb, 2007). But when child is at home and mom is at home collecting money from the state the child will think that is a way of life and will continue the cycle of being a non working mother and again the tax payers will have to pay for another single mother with kids for how long? What about the mother who go through the WF Program, get a job and they cut her off is the practical. This doesn’t make sence at all. Again that’s where the welfare fraud comes into play.
When reading an article from MSU (2007) according to them they are debating the Welfare to Work program it states the Welfare Facts such as;
• 5 % of the U.S. population is on public assistance
• 1% of the federal budget is devoted to welfare or public assistance for the poor. Yet Aid to Families with Dependent Children was the only government entitlement program politicians sought to reform.
• 12 % of the federal budget is devoted to welfare for the middle class and wealthy in the form of tax credits, no interest mortgages, and home investment incentives.
• Under the guise of aiding poor women’s choice, Norplant and Depo-Provera have been pushed on poor women as a way of controlling poverty.
• 34.9% of female headed households live in poverty.

Despite these facts, welfare continues to be a highly contested political topic. The National Welfare Rights Union is against the Work First welfare policies in Michigan. It forces women to work at least 20 hours per week even if they have young children, no skills, no transportation. Even though the Work First program provides transportation, child care, and clothing expenses because being a mother is already a full-time job. It is forced labor and does not provide for education so women can move out of poverty. Minimum wage is not a living wage and most of these jobs do not provide benefits. Welfare rights are human rights. What good is welfare to work if it does not provide the basic necessities: food, shelter, and clothing?

Work Cites

Department of Labor and Growth. (2006). Retrieved Spring, 2006, from http://www.michigan.gov
Deskins, J., & Bruce, D. (2007, June/July). Tennessee University. Retrieved November 29, 2007, from http://www.nawrs.org
Holcomb, P. (2007, October/November). Welfare Reform. Retrieved November 29, 2007, from http://pamelaholcomb.com
Jennings, J. (1993). Welfare Reform and the Revitalzation of Inner City Neighborhoods (p. 185). Michigan: Michigan State University.
Michigan State University. (n.d.). Retrieved October 26, 2007, from http://www.msu.edu
Wikipedia Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2007, from http://www.wikipedia.com