Essay about Federal Welfare Reform

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Federal Welfare Reform: A Critical Perspective

This project will examine “welfare reform,” which was signified by the signing of the Personal
Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWOA) in 1996. PRWOA replaced the original welfare act of 1935, titled Aid to Dependent Children (later changed to Aid to Families with Dependent
Children), with the program Temporary Assistance to needy Families (TANF). Under PRWOA, TANF was instated as a system of block grants allocated to states to implement their own forms of assistance and replaced programs like the cash-assistance program, Aid to Families with Dependent
Children, and the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training. The most influential change of this
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Yet, by focusing exclusively on the decline in TANF caseloads, welfare reform is portrayed as a wild success that has allowed families to “move from dependence on welfare to greater independence through work” (U.S. Department of Health). These sources talk extensively about “empowerment,” “protection,” and “independence” as related directly to work, welfare reform, and its reauthorization. They emphasize a “national” interest in spending cuts which they assume to be exclusive from the interests of the nation’s poor.
The other sources I consulted that were unaffiliated with the government either contradicted or conflicted with the analysis of welfare reform’s success in one way or another. Instead of focusing on the decline in TANF caseloads, these sources looked critically and holistically at welfare reform as a policy and its effect on individuals and families. Instead of ending the analysis with the removal of recipients from the welfare roles, Fremstad, Melendez, and Goldberg examine the long term consequences of removal in terms of poverty, remaining barriers to employment such as disability or childcare, and the affects of reduced educational capitol. In emphasizing these aspects of welfare reform’s impact, the authors reach dramatically different conclusions than the government affiliated sources. Fremstad, Melendez, and
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