Economic Circumstances That Initiated the Term Paper

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We don't look at their psychological well-being. it's almost as though, psychologically, they're a blank. And we know very little about the differences among black women. Some cope better than others. We don't know who they are, why they cope better, what resources they have access to. If we can understand that, then we can understand the needs of those who cope less well. What I am finding so far is that almost all the mothers in my study, when asked whether they would prefer employment to public assistance, say they would rather have a job. However, having a job is very difficult for this group of mothers because it is difficult for them to find and keep jobs that support them and provide adequate benefits. And there's another consideration: When we say we're going to put these women to work, what is it going to mean in terms of the mothers' absence from the home? Even if there are financial benefits -- and it's not clear there will be -- the issue is, do these offset the mothers' absence from the home when the children are quite young? The mothers I've interviewed are very concerned about what's going to happen to their children. A number are already working two jobs, which still leave them in poverty. These are black women whom we rarely hear anything about. I don't think we know what the impact of the new welfare law will be for poor children over time." (Columbia University Record, 1996) Finally, Professor Garfinkel, an expert on contemporary urban issues states: "We want to distinguish between the long run and the short run. The structure that the welfare reform sets up is potential disaster. In addition to eliminating the guarantee of cash assistance to poor children and single mothers, it eliminates the federal matching of state expenditures. That's an important and underappreciated change that will play out in the long run. Under the old system, if a state government wanted to give a dollar of aid to poor people, it only cost them 50 cents because the Feds would pay half. We've eliminated that and created block grants. Now, if the states want to spend a dollar on poor people, it's going to cost them a dollar. The effect of that over time will diminish the amount that states are willing to spend. Any economist worth his or her salt will tell you that "If we have a big recession, the states are not going to be capable of handling it. That's why we federalized aid to the poor in the first place. Every state constitution requires a balanced budget. So when you go into a recession you have less money available at the state level, and one of the things you cut back on is welfare. The federal government does not have a required balanced budget, and, in fact, it makes sense from a macro-economic point-of-view, when you go into a recession, to run a deficit. That's what brings you out of the recession. And a welfare program is a natural stabilizer -- it's a counter-cyclical natural stabilizer for the macro-economy. We've just wiped that out with respect to welfare. In the long run, if that stands, it's a terrible step backwards. In the short run, it's not so bad. Welfare case loads have been going down because we have the best economy right now since the late 60s, early 70s. The way the new legislation reads, the block grants are based on the 1994 level of federal aid. Right now, in 1996, case loads are smaller in the majority of states than they were in 1994. So it turns out the majority of states will get more federal money in the next several years than they would have if the old law had stayed in place. but, if the economy turns bad -- which it always does in an economy that is cyclical -- states will be in trouble as more people are out of work and welfare case loads increase." (Columbia University Record, 1996) One of the major impacts that welfare assistance and reform has been noted to have had upon the U.S. economy is the problem related in the work of Hwa-Ok Park in the work entitled: "Grandmothers Raising Grandchildren: Family Well-Being and Economic Assistance" which states: "According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of children under 18 living in grandparent-headed house-holds has increased markedly, from 2.2 million (or 3.2% of children) in 1970 to approximately 4 million (or 5.5% of children) in 1997.4 Although the majority of grandparent-headed households also include at least one of the grandchild's parents, since 1990 the fastest-growing type of grandparent-headed household is one in which the grandparents and their grandchildren reside together without the grandchild's parents; these are generally called "skipped-generation" households. By 2000, approximately 2.4 million grandparents were responsible." (Park, 2005)in many cases the parents were "unwilling or unable" (Park, to raise the children whether it be due to drug abuse, imprisonment, abuse, neglect or abandonment, divorce, illness, and even death. Grandparent primary caregivers experience many challenges including social, physical, emotional, legal significant economic difficulties, which may result in poverty. In 1996 welfare reform replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with funding under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) because grandparent caregivers are required to engage in work "no later than 24 months after receiving assistance subject to time limits for assistance." (Park, 2005) This has created a disparity in receiving benefits for care of dependent children by primary caregivers due to the unequal ability of grandparents to attain and engage in gainful employment due to issues of aging and a general decline in overall physical health. Park (2005) relates that the welfare reform legislation in 1996 "considerably altered the financing and structure of cash aid and other social welfare programs. programs. Although the federal government imposes some conditions, such as work requirements and time limits, states may now design their own welfare programs. As a result, the effects of the reform on grand-parent primary caregivers will ultimately depend on which state they live in and on any federal waivers that may be in effect.6 Before welfare reform, for instance, older grandparents were likely to be exempt from work requirements because of their age, but no such federal exemption currently exists." (2005) Accessing financial assistance by grandparents caring for their grandchildren in the absence of parents has eligibility criteria that must be carefully weighed in the various programs of assistance available. In the case that the grandparent receives AFDC and TANF child only grants the amount received does not consider the income and assets of grandparents however for those in need of financial assistance because they can no longer fulfill work responsibilities and child care-taking responsibilities, for those whose income or assets are too high, making ends meet is particularly challenging. Assistance is available under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act however, the grandparents have to surrender the children to the sate in order to receive the assistance while filling the role of foster parents to their grandchildren and many grandparents do not want the state involved and may not be able to reach criteria of foster parents and living arrangements. Kinship caregiver payments are able to be accessed in some cases and in others Subsidized guardianship programs are instituted in some states in permanent kinship caregiver options of children in state custody. Park addresses the question of: How effective was income assistance in closing the poverty gap among grandparent caregivers of grandchildren? The answer discovered in the study reported by Park (2005) is not very effective at all as "Among skipped-generation families, 51% of the single-grandmother families and 20% of married grandparents families had incomes below the poverty line prior to transfers. Park states that: "Targeted income support decreased the poverty gap around 40% among all skipped-generation grandmother caregivers' families and by half if we consider only families receiving targeted income assistance." (2005) Park states policy implications to include the fact that in view of the "high poverty rates especially among families headed by single grandmothers, even after the transfer of income assistance, policymakers should reconsider economic policies that currently place grandparents at a disadvantage. Grandparent caregivers often receive inconsistent and inequitable treatment based on their status as a relative. Economic hardship, as this study demonstrates, is widespread among grandparent caregivers, and affects their ability to financially support their grandchildren and maintain their own well-being. In addition to changes in financial assistance programs, policymakers therefore need to consider workplace policies and programs that will improve the grandmothers' abilities to care for their families." (Park, 2005) the work of Karier (2000/3) entitled: "Welfare College Students: Measuring the Impact of Welfare Reform" relates the fact that over the past several years there has been a coordinated effort among federal and state governments to "reorient welfare from income assistance to employment assistance.. With the passage of the Personal Responsibility and…[continue]

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