Over the last few decades, welfare programs have undergone dramatic reforms. While many of these reforms have inspired and motivated many to get off of welfare and into paid work, poverty is still a problem. One indicator of this problem is the high number of children living at or below the poverty level in the United States. As of 2012, research indicates that 23.1 percent of the nation’s children live in poverty, which is about twice the average rate of other developed nations (Child poverty, 2012). This appears to indicate that although welfare rolls have decreased, there is still a significant need in this country and more needs to be done to help the impoverished to ...view middle of the document...
History of Welfare in America: During the Great Depression, poverty was felt by many, inspiring the need of the government to step in and provide assistance to a vulnerable population of widowed mothers. In 1935, the program, Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) was created and was shortly thereafter made available to other single mothers, as well. In 1962, the program was changed to Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), which opened it up to be available to a variety of families living in poverty. AFDC allowed people to draw benefits indefinitely, as long as they continued to qualify (Montoya, Atkinson & Straus, 2001, 772).
As values in American society began to change, the number of babies born out of wedlock and the number of single parent homes began to rise, but so did the caseloads for AFDC. The caseloads for AFDC increased 460 percent from 1960 to 1992, causing the nation to become concerned about the nature of AFDC being an entitlement program that does little to inspire recipients to find sustainable work. The Family Support Act, created in 1988, attempted to address this concern by requiring states to offer pre-employment training, establishing the Jobs and Basic Skills Opportunities (JOBS) program. Although the JOBS program was created to help AFDC recipients to find work, it was not considered successful in reducing welfare rolls (Montoya, Atkinson & Straus, 2001, 772).
A growing concern about the entitlement status of AFDC inspired the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWORA) of 1996, which imposed limits on the length of time that a person can receive benefits to be only 60 months over a lifetime. TANF replaced AFDC and work activities, such as training, school, or actual employment, began to be required to receive benefits. This act helped to motivate many to find work and TANF caseloads were reduced significantly, helping to make PRWORA to be considered a success (Montoya, Atkinson & Straus, 2001, 773).
The successes of PRWORA can be questioned considering that a period of economic growth and an abundance of available work soon followed the passage of the act. This time of economic...