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    Monday, February 26, 2007

    Impressions: The Associated Press says that welfare reform has failed:

    The welfare state is bigger than ever despite a decade of policies designed to wean poor people from public aid.

    The number of families receiving cash benefits from welfare has plummeted since the government imposed time limits on the payments a decade ago. But other programs for the poor, including Medicaid, food stamps and disability benefits, are bursting with new enrollees.

    The result, according to an Associated Press analysis: Nearly one in six people rely on some form of public assistance, a larger share than at any time since the government started measuring two decades ago.

    Critics of the welfare overhaul say the numbers offer fresh evidence that few former recipients have become self-sufficient, even though millions have moved from welfare to work. They say the vast majority have been forced into low-paying jobs without benefits and few opportunities to advance.


    One of the reasons Medicaid has increased is that the government has intentionally been encouraging expansion of the Medicaid program to include the working poor - especially families with small children. It's one of the solutions they've been working to the problem of the uninsured.

    This doesn't mean that welfare reform hasn't worked. I'm not exaggerating when I say that welfare reform was the best thing to come from the Clinton years. It made a change for the better in so many of my patient's lives. There's a despondency that comes with dependency that's difficult to comprehend if you've never seen it in action. The welfare payments weren't enough to do much of anything except stay home and do nothing. And when a person stays home doing nothing all day, they lose a lot of self esteem. But give that person a job and they find out that they are worth something. That they can function and navigate in the world and that they're just as good as anyone else they meet in the workplace. I've seen the change in my patients. The improvement in self confidence and self esteem is priceless, and shouldn't be underestimated.

    The article even acknowledges this with both their examples:

    Nia Foster fits the pattern of dependence on government programs. She stopped getting cash welfare payments in the late 1990s and has moved from one clerical job to another. None provided medical benefits.

    The 32-year-old mother of two from Cincinnati said she supports her family with help from food stamps and Medicaid.

    Foster said she did not get any job training when she left welfare. She earned her high-school equivalency last year at a community college.

    "If you want to get educated or want to succeed, the welfare office don't care," Foster said. "I don't think they really care what you do once the benefits are gone."

    Foster now works in a tax office, a seasonal job that will end after April 15. She hopes to enroll at the University of Cincinnati this spring and would like to study accounting. She is waiting to find out if she qualifies for enough financial aid to cover tuition.

    "I like data processing, something where it's a bunch of invoices and you have to key them in," Foster said. "I want to be an accountant so bad."

    Shannon Stanfield took a different, less-traveled path from welfare, thanks to a generous program that offered her a chance to get a college education.

    Stanfield, 36, was cleaning houses to support her two young children four years ago when she learned about a program for welfare recipients at nearby Hamilton College, a private liberal arts school in Clinton, N.Y.

    "At the time I was living in a pretty run-down apartment," said Stanfield, who was getting welfare payments, Medicaid and food stamps. "It wasn't healthy."

    ....Stanfield, who still gets Medicaid and food stamps, plans to graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in theater. She wants to be a teacher.

    "I slowly built up my confidence through education," Stanfield said. "I can't honestly tell you how much it has changed my life."


    Doesn't sound like such a failure.
     

    posted by Sydney on 2/26/2007 08:00:00 AM 3 comments

    3 Comments:

    Welfare reform also dropped the incentive to have children as a simple means of increasing income. Often this was generational with a 15 year cycle. Since welfare reform we have seen a decrease in the number of young girls giving birth.

    There is a growing knowledge in this community that simply having children will not lead to financial independence. Education and responsibility is the key to breaking this cycle.

    Steve Lucas

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:56 AM  

    Thanks for posting this. The story is real junk. You have to wonder about the motives.

    By Blogger cokaygne, at 4:59 PM  

    "I like data processing, something where it's a bunch of invoices and you have to key them in," Foster said. "I want to be an accountant so bad."

    Keying in invoices is data entry, not data processing, and accounting can be done properly without a computer at all. Sadly the above quote shows just how far from reality many welfare reform workers are in their conception of what work is.

    By Blogger Frank Borger, at 8:42 AM  

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