Term Paper: Child Welfare Biased in System

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Child Welfare Biased in System

Info: "some legal scholars and civil rights activists have raised the challenge that child welfare in the U.S. is biased. they argue that states act against low-income families, particularly single mothers and families of color, far more than middle or upper income families. state child protective service administrators argue that they have explicit criteria to determine child abuse or neglect and caseworkers apply those evenly, case by case. their imperative they point out, is to keep children safe without regard to any other factor" my argument is that children of single mothers suffer more in the system because being a single mother and on welfare has a stigma in society that the government is unwilling to address. that these women are somehow guilty and less citizens. talk about minimum wage, working mothers not making enough to support kids because of minimum wage and kids being taken away. how living as orphans is more detrimental than living in a low income home with the biological mother.

Welfare Reform: Single Mothers Bias

There are many arguments to the welfare reform issue, but it is a complex story that regardless of which side of the debate you're on - being should we or should we not force single mothers off of welfare and onto an employer's payroll at minimum wage; the fact is indisputable that it is better to have a single parent on welfare, at home with her child, raising that child, than working at McDonalds. Some people beg to differ with that notion, but they would most likely be the people who have never had to make the choice between buying milk for their young child and paying the electric bill to keep the milk cold. This is not an exaggeration. These are choices that single parents whose incomes are below poverty level are faced with making each day, many of whom have been forced to take minimum wage jobs. Many of these young mothers do not receive child support, and even with subsidized child care, being forced to work for minimum wages has not changed the difficulties that these young women are faced with, but has actually increased the number of difficulties facing the single parent family. The system that places additional burdens on young single women with children is one thwart with bias, and is a system in desperate need of research and proactive measures to alleviate the bias, stress, poverty and other conditions arising out of single motherhood.

Welfare to Work - in Brief it would probably be accurate to say that most Americans do not understand the welfare system in America. If they did, we would hear fewer comments like:

They live off the state

They have children for the money

Why get a job when the state supports them Comments like these, and others that come to mind, are not comments that demonstrate an understanding of the current welfare system in America, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or the system it replaced, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). However, since AFDC no longer exists in its original form, and because the country has, since 1996 existed under the TANF system, which is when, on August 22 of that year, President William Jefferson Clinton signed it into law; the focus here shall be on the current system. One of the most succinct works describing TANF is a book by John E. Hansan and Robert Morris (1999), Welfare Reform 1996-2000: Is There a Safety Net, describes not just the program, but the plight of the single mother,.".. usually a woman (p. 1)."

The authors begin by introducing, in brief, the foundation for TANF (Hansan and Morris, 1). They describe the mentality behind TANF this way:

Working for wages is the principal means for obtaining income and getting ahead in American society. Work is the key to personal independence and an effective way to achieve a meaningful role in our society. Significant participation in the workforce also is a necessary condition for receiving benefits from our nation's major social welfare programs -- unemployment insurance, workmen's compensation, Social Security retirement and disability payments, Medicare health insurance, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. With one major exception, adults living outside of an institution, who are unable to work because of their age, physical condition, or other limitations, must depend on family, friends, and/or a meager patchwork of public relief and private charities for income, food, clothing, and housing (e.g., Supplemental Security Income (SSI), food stamps, general relief, homeless shelters, soup kitchens) (Hasnan and Morris, 1)."

Others would describe the mentality behind as the Clinton administration's effort to cut the budget at whatever corners he could, and the easiest way to do that was to cut it in those programs that supported people who had the least amount of credibility, by virtue of their economic and social status; and lack of representation in the United States. That group, of course, is those individuals reliant upon TANF, young single mothers whose struggles really afford them little time or opportunity to be politically proactive.

Hasnan and Morris go on to provide the visual of the TANF recipients, saying:

Parents of minor children (usually women), whose level of income and assets are sufficiently low to make them eligible for monthly cash assistance authorized by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in the state in which they reside, are the exception to this "work" policy. TANF is a federally funded block grant program that replaced the 60-year-old Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, our nation's only safety net for economically dependent children (Hasnan and Morris, 1)."

It could be argued here that Hasnan and Morris are wrong, these "usually women" are not the exception to the "work" policy, and that is the basis for the overhaul in the 60-year AFDC program, to TANF, to get these young women onto the national "work" policy, as opposed to the welfare policy. In other words, the Clinton administration relied upon the lack of understanding, the bias, of the general public's perception about "work" in order to bring about devastating change in the lives of single parent, low income families. This would make TANF perhaps the greatest, certainly the largest bias against single parents and their children, since it is representative of the American public who are not on TANF.

TANF is the heart of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRAWORA), the welfare reform legislation signed into law by President William Clinton on August 22, 1996. The principal elements of TANF include: (1) limiting to five years the federal government's financial and regulatory responsibility for helping poor families with children, regardless of the cause of their poverty; (2) allowing states to spend their share of federal block grant funds ($16.38 billion annually) in any way "reasonably calculated to achieve the purposes of TANF"; (3) limiting the length of time a family can receive federal cash assistance to five years, with states free to further limit assistance to two years; (4) requiring at least 80% of families receiving TANF benefits to participate in employment activities as a condition for receiving cash assistance or services, hence the term welfare-to-work (Hasnan and Morris, 1-2)."

The first problem with TANF, but not the first bias, is limiting the period for helping impoverished families, most notably single parent (women) households, regardless of their poverty. It is the assumption of Mr. Clinton and those who worked to create the Act, that by the time a child is five years old - because a young woman would not, but for the child, be on TANF, that the child is sufficiently raised to transfer the continued raising of the child to child care and to the public school systems so that the mother can pursue gainful employment for minimum wage. There are several problems here that reflect a bias.

The government is saying that a young mother's need state suggests that the public daycare and school system is better equipped to manage the raising of her child. It suggests that the emotional, psychological, and other needs of a young child are universal, and that all children are equally prepared to receive substitute nurturing so that their mothers, their only parent, can work for minimum wage at McDonalds.

Earning minimum wage does not mean an end to the government's recognition of the individual child's needs. The family can continue to receive food stamps, and can continue to receive Medicaid for healthcare, but those benefits are for the children only, not the parent. The mother's minimum wage excludes her from eligibility to receive food stamps or Medicaid for herself. Here, is an overwhelming challenge to the working mother to now devote the minimum wage that she received as part of the grant under TANF, in addition to food stamps for herself and her child, to food for herself. She is no longer a part of the formula for determining the amount she will receive… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Child Welfare Biased in System.  (2007, December 8).  Retrieved May 23, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/child-welfare-biased-system/4559

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https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/child-welfare-biased-system/4559.