Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform Essay examples

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The book I chose to write my paper on is Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform by Sharon Hays. In the book, the author looks at the welfare reform act enacted in 1996, known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. . She examines both the positive and negative effects that the Act has had on the poor as well as the effects it has had on society overall. In her research, she spent over 600 hours in welfare offices, speaking to caseworkers, social workers, and welfare recipients and potential recipients themselves. She learned first hand how the Act affected the day to lives of poor women and their families, as well as how it affected the caseworkers who not only had to learn…show more content…
Through interviews with welfare workers and recipients, Hays demonstrates the high costs welfare has had on the moral, economic, physical and mental well-being of poor women and their children due to what she considers to be the conflict between the two opposing aspects of reform: work values and family values. She believes that these conflicting values and the inherent weaknesses in the Act contribute to serious and ongoing problems for welfare recipients. Welfare reform is viewed by many as an attack on poor, single mothers. According to Rebecca Blank, “single-mother families are the largest (and fastest-growing) family type.” They also make up nearly all of the families who receive welfare (only 7% of welfare recipients live in two-parent households and even fewer welfare households are headed by men, according to Hays.) Hays also notes in the book that these single mothers are frequently derided as lazy, promiscuous, and are accused of abusing the welfare system for their ill-gotten gains (which in most cases total the princely sum of less than $500 per month.) Hays goes on to say that “As anyone who has ever spent time in a welfare office knows, it is a world of women, children, and diversity.” Black and Hispanic welfare recipients make up 38% and 24.5% respectively of all welfare recipients, while those populations comprise 12.3% and 17% respectively

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