The Pros of Welfare Reform

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The Pros of Welfare Reform

In the summer of 1996, Congress finally passed and the President signed the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996", transforming the nation's welfare system. The passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act sets the stage for ongoing reconstruction of welfare systems on a state-by-state basis. The combined programs will increase from nearly $100 billion this year to $130 billion per year in 6 years. Programs included are for food stamps, SSI, child nutrition, foster care, the bloss grant program for child- care, and the new block grant to take the place of AFDC. All of those programs will seek $700 billion over the next 6 years, from the taxpayers of America. This program in its reformed mode will cost $55 billion less than it was assumed to cost if there were no changes and the entitlements were left alone. The current welfare system has failed the very families it was intended to serve. If the present welfare system was working so well we would not be here today.

The current system has not been good for children. In 1965 there were 3.3 million children on AFDC; by 1992, that had risen to over 9 million children despite the fact that the total number of children in this country has declined. Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services estimated if we do nothing, 12 million will be on AFDC in 10 years. Instead of working up, we find more and more children being trapped in a system and into dependency on welfare. 90 percent of the children on AFDC live without one of their parents. Only a fraction of welfare families are engaged in work. There are always the sad accounts of how, again and again, women would get off of welfare, they would be doing well on their own, but their child-care would fall apart just as they were getting back on their feet. The new bill provides $3.5 billion more than current for that needed child care.

One big step towards reform has already been made by the State of Oregon, marking a simple path for the Nation. A new welfare reform program has been introduced, known as Jobs Plus. With the Jobs Plus Program, Oregon has been able to have strong work requirements and needed child and medical care for folks coming off of welfare.
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