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    Welfare Reform - Political Views

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    I am writing a research paper for my "american national government" class. I am doing the paper on "welfare reform" and any political veiws that can be affiliated with the topic. Could you please give me some ideas, previous writings, and also include references, authors, titles, year, and publishers ... ?


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    Ongoing Federal cash assistance to low-income families was ended in 1996 with the substitution of the PRWORA for previous welfare programs. The Act requires most adults to get jobs, but it also provides funds to states through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grants for the support of people still eligible for welfare, and through additional allotments for child care. The states have some discretion in how they appropriate TANF funds (i.e., outright payments for five years or so, food stamps, job training), but in general less public money is available to increase the income and opportunities of poor families (Ripke & Crosby, 2002).
    Statistics from a Federal government report (Federal Interagency Forum, 2002) indicate a positive trend in poverty reduction. The child poverty rate in 1999 and 2000 was 16 percent, down from a high of 22 percent in 1993, with the decline steepest for African American children in female-householder families. Slightly less than one percent of children resided in households reporting child hunger, although 18 percent lived with "food insecurity," percentages also lower than in previous years.
    Other sources are not optimistic that the trend will persist. They cite these supporting facts: Former welfare recipients often get jobs resulting in no more family income than welfare payments and offering none of the health care or other benefits previously available through assistance programs. Transitioning workers frequently cycle in and out of employment, leaving their families without any earned income for periods of time and ineligible for government assistance. Many families therefore have less disposable income than previously (Ripke & Crosby, 2002; Zaslow et al., 2002). Further, as the economy continues to decline, even more newer and less-skilled workers will be jobless again (Weil & Finegold, 2002).
    Families need disposable income to provide children with educational and recreational enrichment at home, and to offset the negative effects of living in underresourced and sometimes violence-prone communities. In urban areas, expensive housing, inferior schools, and high costs of living further increase the need for more income (Blum & Francis, 2002). Thus, many researchers assert that of all the potential benefits of welfare reform, the most important by far is simply an increase in family income (Sherman, 2001) because "[e]conomically secure children tend to be healthier and do better in school... [and] less likely to be involved in criminal behavior and more likely to graduate from high school and to earn higher incomes..." (Zedlewski, 2002, p. 123). Further, when coupled with increased income security, parents' acquisition of new skills, increased self esteem, and job stability and satisfaction can alleviate the family stress, emotional distress, violence, and dysfunction that can impede child development.
    In many cases, though, the transition to work has not yet increased family income. Further, boring and frustrating jobs that pay little but leave workers ineligible for government subsidies, and play havoc with child care and home schedules, often increase negative parent behaviors and limit their ability to promote their children's development and education. Therefore, most researchers assert that supplemental funds to increase family and community resources for child development are still needed (Blum & Francis, 2002; Chase-Lansdale & Duncan, 2001; Ripke & Crosby, 2002; Weil & Finegold, 2002; Zaslow et al., 2000; 2002; Zedlewski, 2002).
    PRWORA requires nearly all mothers with children age one or older to get jobs, and has increased the amount of Federal funds available for child care to promote compliance. To increase poor families' options, Head Start--the universally well-regarded Federal programwhich traditionally has been a half-day program with heavy parent involvement--is experimenting with new models to meet the needs of the growing number of working mothers. Indeed, studies consistently show that high quality child care providing early learning interventions, particularly for poor children, improves both school readiness and later learning; it is frequently superior to staying at home with a parent (Ripke & Crosby, 2002; Zaslow et al., 2002).
    Still, even if families are able to take advantage of subsidies--which have proven to be difficult to get--good center-based child care, particularly programs with flexible hours to accommodate shift work, is hard to find, and it is disproportionately expensive for the poor. Thus, poor families remain heavy users of informal, unlicensed care with very minimal educational value (Ripke & Crosby, 2002; Zaslow et al., 2002).
    Information on the school performance of students whose families are ...