TANF Program Social Welfare Policy Research Paper

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TANF Program Social Welfare

TANF Program -- Social Welfare Policy

In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was ratified. This would attempt to reform the obvious abuses that were occurring with the nation's social service programs. However, the reforms that were implemented have caused controversy, with proponents claiming that this is necessary to prevent the obvious abuses that were occurring. While opponents claim, that this program would do more harm than good by not addressing the root causes of poverty. To see the full impact of the program requires: comparing four significant changes to the state / federal welfare system, looking at the negative outcomes of the program, examining the positive outcomes of these changes and looking the forms of poverty that have influenced the opinions of the general public on the idea of reform. Together, these different elements will provide the greatest insights, as to overall effects of the changes.

What are four (4) significant changes to our current state / federal welfare system (TANF), as compared to the previous program (AFDC)?

The TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) replaced the AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) by having a more narrow definition as to who would qualify for welfare assistance. This was accomplished by having more transparency and requirements that welfare recipients would have to go through, while eliminating large groups from being eligible. Four of the biggest changes would include: it strengthened child support enforcement, excluded non-citizens from key programs, creates SSI limitations and it increased the requirements to be eligible for food stamps. The TANF strengthened child support enforcement, by forcing the states to create a central registry for child support orders. Where, the state would have the option of taking legal action against those parents / guardians that knowingly violate their child support obligations. This is different from the AFDC which had no such provisions or programs in place. (Quigley, 1998, pg. 102)

The TANF excluded legal and illegal immigrants from being eligible for welfare assistance by requiring that anyone who is eligible to be a U.S. citizen. This means that between the different programs of: SSI, food stamps and Medicaid; 2.15 million people would be eliminated. The obvious difference between this program and the AFDC is that the large group of immigrants is: no longer eligible for any kind of assistance. (Quigley, 1998, pg. 102)

A third change under the TANF is: that is it created limitations on SSI programs. One area where this can be seen is in the definition of disabled children with the program using the comparable severity standards from the court case Sullivan v. Zebley under AFDC guidelines. The TANF narrows this definition, with the person having to be medically diagnosed with a physical or mental impairment of at least twelve consecutive months. This is significant, because it shows how SSI is being more restrictive under the new program. (Quigley, 1998, pg. 102)

The fourth change under the TANF would be: that it increases the standards to be eligible for food stamps. Under the new changes, there are requirements for individuals that are receiving assistance. Where, they have to obtain some kind of employment and it imposes a five-year limit on how long someone can remain in the program. This is different from the AFDC, where there were no restrictions or requirements. (Quigley, 1998, pg. 102)

What have been some of the negative outcomes experienced by welfare recipients under TANF? How might these issues be addressed? What might make it difficult to implement these suggestions?

Several of the negative outcomes that were experienced by welfare recipients under TANF would include: low wages, dead end jobs, difficulty obtaining health / child care and inconsistent performance from social workers. In the inner city, these different frustrations are common as all of these different factors will play an interconnected role in creating a negative outcome for the welfare recipient. Where, they must work in jobs that cannot help support them while having to deal with financial challenges and the frustrations of cases workers, who do not care. These different elements together will make the experience more negative under the TANF guidelines. (Anderson, 2004, pg. 185)

The way that these issues could be addressed is by taking a more gradual approach. Under this kind of system you would slowly work the person off of welfare. Where, you have them work (at least part time), go to job / career training and provide psychological counseling. These elements would help to provide a way of lessening the impact that someone will face with the TANF protocol as they are suddenly forced off of the program. Once this occurs, is when many people will have trouble adapting to the changes. To mitigate these negative side effects as much as possible it is advisable that a gradualist approach is used with a variety of tools and techniques. (Anderson, 2004, pg. 185)

The biggest difficulty could be within the community and political environment. The reason why is because many people will argue that a gradualist approach to this issue is nothing more than coddling lazy people who do not want to work. Therefore, they argue that the only way for them to help themselves is to be forced to deal with the realities of life. These views are strong in many political circles and local communities as they think that many of these people really do not need assistance. Overcoming, these perceptions to show that an all or nothing approach is: making the situation worse. This is because of the views that the community and politicians have.

What have been some of the positive outcomes experienced by those who have been on TANF?

Some of the positive outcomes experienced by the TANF would include: reduced welfare caseloads, they have increase unemployment / income levels for the recipients' and it improves family security. When you look at the reduced case loads it is clear that the different welfare to work programs have been helping, families leave these programs and begin working. Evidence of this can be seen with caseloads dropping by 5 million between 1994 and 2001.This has caused the underlying levels of unemployment to decrease, while the levels of income have increased under the TANF guidelines. This is because the central theme is: eligibility in order to receive the benefits. Where, if recipients' want to continue receiving assistance in some form, they have to show gainful employment. There were some concerns that the TANF program would have an impact on the underlying levels of the health of children and availability to food. Despite these concerns the TANF programs have made a positive impact on families as the increased income gives them greater financial security. As a result, access to: health care, food and extra financial resources have increased. This has helped to make low income families more stable as they seek less assistance from the government and are relying on themselves. (Grogger, n.d.)

In our opinion what form(s) of poverty do you think may have influenced the public's desire for the changes that came with TANF? Explain.

The two forms of poverty that would have an effect up the public's views for change include: non-income poverty and economic poverty. Non-income poverty is when people have no money and the individual / family do not have access, to social services that can provide some form of assistance such as: food stamps. ("Types of Poverty," n.d.) Economic poverty is when the individual has access to the basic elements necessary for survival (food, water, clothing and shelter). However, they do not have the economic opportunity or the liquidity to help improve their situation. ("Types of Poverty," 2007) These two forms of poverty work together to affect the public's view of the TANF programs. Where, non-income poverty would serve as the basic foundation for establishing welfare assistance programs and the broad definitions under AFDC guidelines. Over the course of time, the majority of recipients' were able to make the transition from non-income poverty to economic poverty. This would cause their standard of living to improve but these people did not have the liquidity or economic opportunity to lift themselves out of their economic situation. This would lead to an expansion of various social services to addresses these inequalities. The problem began, when many of the different welfare recipients' would not take advantage of the assistance that was being offered to them to improve their lives. Instead, they wanted to have various social service programs support them. This perception among the public would lead to the passage and implementation of the TANF program. As it would attempt to address the abuses that were occurring while at the same time providing some form of assistance to those who need it the most.

Clearly, the TANF program has had a profound impact upon the way various social services programs are administered. This is in response to the large amounts of waste that were occurring under the AFDC. As the new regulations would… [end of preview; READ MORE]

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