The Federal Welfare Reform Act of 1996

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Introduction

 The Federal welfare reform act of 1996 is officially and alternatively known as the Personal responsibility and work opportunity reconciliation act (PRWORA). The act got President Clintons signature appended in August 1996 and was passed into law. The legislation had been as a result of pressure mainly mounted by the Republicans who wished to have the (ADC) Aid to Dependent Children program amended. The program was a 1935 initiative meant to help poor families-especially single parent families (Cravens, 2010).

Partly Clinton gave in to the amendments due to campaign pressure, and the offer to repeal the legislation was part of his campaign. The roles of the AFDC greatly increased since the 60s to the 90s and criticism of the scheme also grew by the day. The era in the 90s was characterized by individualistic ideologies which flourished in the capitalist world view, and conservatives saw the program as one communist plot. The apparent communist appearance of the whole program seemed to be against American values, and this formed the basis of their argument (Cravens, 2010).


Those that argued against the program claimed that beneficiaries of the program were growing independent each and every day and that they regarded the whole welfare idea as their rightful entitlement. They further claimed that the enrolled families had no incentive to seek meaningful employment because they could depend on the program and thus encouraging laziness. The dependency created was also blamed for the rise in illegitimacy within single mother families.


The fact that single mothers could depend on these programs seemed to encourage single motherhood and thus, the program was cited as an encouraging factor that led to broken marriages. However, some studies and claims from those that were for the program seemed to favor the program by claiming that it had go a long way in fostering the cultural, economic and legal independence of single parent families under the program.


However, the increasing generosity which could allow mothers to get paid to stay at home and take care of their children did not impress many people. Despite the seemingly racial and gender tone of the argument those against it managed to win, and thus a reform had to be initiated (Cravens, 2010). Finally, as moderates, liberals and conservatives attained a common alignment in the 90s more and more people became against the plan, and this culminated into a reform that required the heads of welfare beneficiary families to make an exchange of work for a certain time of work.


In this period the beneficiaries are expected to be working towards getting a better job so that they could exit from the welfare program (Cravens, 2010). A time limit of two years per session is offered under the program with possible return, but one is not expected to be on the program for more than five years. There are strong incentives from the federal government for states that make compliance and eliminate the high numbers of beneficiaries. The signing of the law ended AFDC and most of its benefits (Klerman, Karoly & Grogger, 2002).


In North Carolina the influence of the act is characteristically akin to many other states, with a  recorded heightening of single parents employment rates and a growth in their income under the work exchange program. This has subsequently reduced food stump usage (Klerman, Karoly  & Grogger, 2002). Most of the observed changes of a positive nature mainly lie in the measure of economy related factors. However, social impacts are seemingly low in Raleigh-North Carolina (Families, 2010).


References

January, 2010 from http://www.faqs.org/childhood/Th-W/Welfare-Reform-Act-1996.html

Klerman, A. J. Karoly, A. L. and Grogger, G. (2002),. Consequences of Welfare Reform: A research synthesis, retrieved on 3rd January, 2010 from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/welfare_employ/res_systhesis/reports/consequences_of_wr/rand_report.pdf

January, 2010 from http://familiesusa.org/issues/minority-health/

 

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