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Recent Welfare Reform Research Findings

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❶Welfare recipients are now often required to attend training programs or perform work in order to receive benefits. Recent studies suggest that many recipients have a limited understanding of time limit rules.

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Well-being and social welfare

Welfare recipients are now often required to attend training programs or perform work in order to receive benefits. The relative position of former welfare recipients to the official poverty line, however, remains a debated issue, as does the position of single parents and minority groups in the current welfare system. Other benefits, such as tax cuts for low-income workers, Medicaid, and food stamp programs, have been expanded to aid those who have attempted to join the conventional workforce since The caseloads of welfare caseworkers fell from 5.

The economy then fell into a recession and both increased significantly. Between and , both categories had also expanded substantially Snyder, The conventional competing explanations for issues related to poverty and welfare policy are cultural and structural. Cultural explanations tend to be politically conservative and emphasize behavioral patterns, whereas structural explanations tend to be politically liberal or left-leaning and emphasize political and economic factors.

A common argument from the cultural perspective is that the ready availability of welfare benefits leads to dependence, deterioration of the work ethic, and general societal irresponsibility.

An extreme version of this argument asserts that welfare creates poverty. Structural arguments can take at least two significant angles: A possible third angle emphasizes the degree to which relatively minor policy changes can affect those temporarily on the economic margins of society. Zuberi takes this approach and de-emphasizes both cultural and structural approaches p. An alternative approach to welfare reform, known as guaranteed income, similarly does not fall along partisan political lines.

Guaranteed income is a largely theoretical plan to transform welfare payments into something comparable to respectable social insurance programs.

Such programs, including pensions, unemployment insurance, and disability benefits automatically supplement the income of qualified recipients in most cases and account for inflation or the real value of income.

Welfare recipients, by contract, must undergo a humiliating and ongoing series of application updates and investigations about the absence of earned income. Welfare funding, furthermore, is almost invariably well below the poverty line.

In short, a guaranteed income policy would diminish the administrative distinction between respectable social insurance programs such as pensions and unemployment insurance and public assistance welfare or "cash assistance".

Although President Lyndon B. Johnson considered such an approach under his efforts to solidify what he termed the Great Society and complete the "War on Poverty" in the s, the administration of Richard Nixon actually attempted to enact such a policy. As early as , some states provided cash assistance to single mothers under a program known as the "Widow's Pension," and some of the recipients had not been married Abramovitz, That program was primarily intended to allow single parents to care for dependent children.

Only 2 percent of families who received funds were headed by a woman who had not been married; the other 98 percent were families headed by widows, abandoned but legally married women, or physically disabled fathers. This distinction established the later distribution of government funds along both gender-related and class-related lines.

The legislation that established most welfare programs at the national level made a sharp distinction between social insurance and public assistance. This distinction has been described as separate and unequal programs for "employables" and "unemployables" respectively Patterson, , p.

Recent research continues to show high poverty rates and very modest growth in income for families that leave welfare. Recent state-level studies provide new evidence on the extent to which families that lose TANF cash assistance due to sanctions or time limits face serious material hardships, including problems securing housing and affording food.

More recent time limit research, however, finds that time limit-leavers have lower employment rates, higher poverty rates, and higher levels of material hardship than other TANF leavers. Recent studies suggest that many recipients have a limited understanding of time limit rules. Prior research has generally shown that large shares of families that have been sanctioned face significant barriers to employment — such as health problems, children with health problems, low basic skill levels, and substance abuse problems.

For a review of the literature, see Pavetti More recent research provides additional evidence to support these findings. Taken together, these new studies and previous research provide unassailable evidence that sanction and time limit policies are leading to real hardship for a substantial number of poor children. A considerable body of research has examined the prevalence of health problems among TANF participants and leavers, and the correlation between health problems and employment and sanction rates See Butler, ; Goldberg, Recent research in this area continues to find a strong relationship between health and employment Zedlewski, This research builds on earlier research by examining the prevalence of health problems — and their impacts on employment outcomes — among TANF recipients in part of Michigan over a multi-year period, rather than simply measuring the proportion of recipients at any point in time that have health problems.

The researchers found that physical and mental health problems and child health problems each are related to lower employment durations over a nearly five-year period, even after controlling for a range of factors that effect employability including job skills, prior work experience, and access to transportation Corcoran, Danziger, and Tolman, Mothers caring for children with health problems are less likely to be employed and work fewer hours when they are employed.

For a review of this research, see Powers, Many state officials and welfare-to-work providers have reported that the share of TANF recipients with substantial work limitations or barriers have increased over time as TANF caseloads declined.

Research conducted on this question in the late s generally did not find an increase, although typically the number of work limitations examined was limited. Some recent research, however, suggests that the share of TANF recipients with health problems may be increasing.

An increasing share of TANF recipients reported work-limiting health conditions in two different national surveys between and Bavier, One other national survey, however, does not show an increase in very poor mental or physical health between and , although the level of health problems reported in this survey is higher than in the other two Zedlewski, The same researcher found that returns to welfare among leavers without work-limiting conditions declined after , but remained stable for leavers with work-limiting conditions.

TANF cash assistance caseloads declined and single-parent employment increased in the last half of the s. Poverty also declined, but at a much slower rate than the declines in welfare caseloads. While fewer families received TANF benefits and more families had earnings, many new workers remained poor because they were paid low wages and, in many cases, did not receive benefits such as cash assistance or food stamps.

More recently, poverty has increased, but the TANF caseload has not increased nationally as one would expect in a time of rising need. Welfare caseloads nationally are essentially flat, even as poverty has increased. Participation in food stamps and health care programs, however, has increased as one would expect in a weakened economy. There has been very little research on diversion policies.

Two recent studies, however, provide important new information on the impact of diversion. Unfortunately, the relative importance of these factors — as well as the interactive effects among them — is difficult to disentangle. Based on a review of research in this area, one conservative analyst, Doug Besharov of the American Enterprise Institute and the University of Maryland, recently estimated that the economy accounted for 35 to 45 percent of the decline in the welfare caseloads, increased aid to the working poor accounted for 20 to 30 percent, increases in the minimum wage for 0 to 5 percent, welfare reform for 25 to 35 percent, and erosion of the value of cash benefits for 5 to 10 percent Besharov and Germanis, Surprisingly, the role of the expansion of child care subsidies to low-income parents in the s in increasing employment rates and hours worked has just begun to receive significant research attention.

A growing body of new research, however, looks more closely at this area and consistently finds strong linkages between child care and employment increases. Research conducted over the past several years has found that food insecurity rose significantly among immigrant-headed households most likely to be subject to the restrictions while declining among most other households this research pre-dates the recent rise in food insecurity among all households , and that the proportion of immigrants who lack health insurance has increased Fremstad More recent research on the impact of the restrictions on the well-being of immigrant families is consistent with these earlier findings.

Low-income immigrant families are less likely to receive TANF assistance than other low-income families. However, legal immigrants who do receive TANF have significant barriers to work, and if they are working, are more likely than other recipients to have jobs that provide little opportunity for speaking English, gaining skills, and achieving self-sufficiency Tumlin and Zimmermann, ; Fremstad, Both bills provide a very small increase in child care funding that is insufficient even to allow states to maintain their current levels of child care funding.

The pending proposals would do little to address the challenges uncovered by recent research, such as the increase in joblessness among welfare leavers, the growing share of very poor children who do not receive help from TANF, the limited income mobility for many low-income families, and the increase in material hardships faced by immigrants. In fact, as most states have made clear, these proposals would make it more difficult for states to provide the assistance and support families need to move to stable employment and advance in their careers.

Such proposals might make sense if states had done little since to move families from welfare to work. But just the opposite is true. They used the savings generated by significant declines in the cash assistance caseload to increase access to work supports — particularly child care — for both welfare recipients and low-income families not on welfare.

Employment among welfare recipients and single mothers generally reached record high levels and the length of time families spend on welfare declined substantially.

The current proposals seem to assume that the problems states faced in the early s — including increasing caseloads and low employment rates — are the same problems they face today. Welfare caseloads remain low but families who are leaving welfare increasingly do not have stable employment. Even when they have jobs, their earnings remain extremely low — many remain below the poverty level — in both the short- and long-term.

Too often these barriers are not addressed. Some of the reforms implemented over the past decade — particularly full-family sanction policies, time limits, and certain types of work requirements and diversion policies that are not designed to meet the needs of recipients with health and other barriers — have been counter-productive for these families, a point apparently conceded by some of the strongest proponents of the reforms.

As three Republicans who were leaders in the welfare reform debate recently wrote: The research findings detailed here provide important lessons for state-level TANF policymakers.

Many of the concerns raised by recent research — including the low levels of participation among eligible families, the struggles of families with barriers to employment, and the high rate of poverty among welfare leavers — can be addressed through changes in state TANF policies. Many of the research findings discussed in this report make clear that the results of welfare reform research conducted during the strong economic period of the s may differ from results obtained from research during a weak economy.

Thus, there is a role for continuing research even on questions that some think may have been answered by earlier research. For example, although several leaver studies provide information on income and hardship levels of families that have left welfare in the s, the results of such studies might be very different if they had been conducted during an economic downturn.

Finally, considerable gaps in knowledge on the impacts of certain welfare reform policies remain. Jay Bainbridge, Marcia K. Maria Cancian, Robert H. What do we Know?

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Welfare is a public policy concept in which government programs are introduced to help a society’s poor or disabled population reenter the workforce and care for themselves. This paper will take an in-depth look at the institution of welfare in the United States.

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Kelton Myrberg, Justin Adams, Alex Moyes, Dylan Ross English Murray High School The Struggling Welfare System The government of the United States historically has made attempts to give back to and benefit its people, especially those struggling. One way the government of today attempts to aid its struggling people is through welfare.

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Welfare research paper - Perfectly written and custom academic essays. Expert scholars, exclusive services, fast delivery and other benefits can be found in our writing service All kinds of writing services & research papers. Welfare recipients are now often required to attend training programs or perform work in order to receive benefits. The relative position of former welfare recipients to the official poverty line, however, remains a debated issue, as does the position of single parents and minority groups in the current welfare system.