Research has it that the number or percentage of families relying on Temporary Assistance for the Needy Families declined after the implementation of the 1996 a factor that Bush cited while advocating for the reforms. This view is however faced by much criticism from those who argue that these changes were attributed to economic recession and growth. This critic can however be challenged by the data provided by the Congressional Research Services and the US Department of Human Services.
Opponents of the welfare reform argue that the reforms are supported on the misconception that all those who leave the welfare are successfully assimilated into the job market. The implication created here is that as soon as single mothers leave the welfare they become financially independent. Many states carried out intensive research to establish the effectiveness of this reform in job creation. They established that over 60% of the women leaving the welfare acquired jobs within a short period but in the long run the percentage rose to 80%.
The US Census Bureau also supported these findings as the data they provided indicated that the rate at which single mothers reported employment levels were substantially higher after the implementation of the welfare reforms. In a span of 6 years after the implementation of the welfare reform the number of women who headed their families and were employed increased by 25% among the low income earners or the poor. According to Gary Burtless Brookings Institution, 2001 these women recorded a tremendous shift after 1996 despite the fact that they were less educated and experienced.
The effectiveness of increased job opportunities for single mothers heading their families can however be criticized on the basis that they do not necessarily imply economic well being. Critics of the welfare reform argue that it was not successful as it only created a class of the ‘working poor’ who were not any better after leaving the welfare for the jobs. The wages that these people earned were barely enough to meet their basic needs leave alone lead decent lifestyles. The wages earned were not enough to deliver them from poverty.
The support systems available did not enable them in remaining employed. There was need to support them until they would earn better wages and health insurance as well as child care all of which would have a positive impact on them. Otherwise if the state of events remained like this the welfare would always be a disincentive to work. A survey conducted by the Community Service for Societies of New York found out that only 44% of low income families had health insurance and 63% are not given sick leaves at all.
Critics argue that the reforms effect on poverty is negative and despite the reduced welfare rates poverty rates are still on the rise according to the Census Bureau. Food security has also been threatened as the number of families who worried of where to get their next meal is still high. Food security which means the access to enough food for quality and active healthy living is highly correlated to income. It is also dependent on the household structure and composition.
Single parent families register a higher rate of food insecurity compared to families with both parents. Again, families with dependents have a higher insecurity rate compared to those without. Single mothers tend to register a higher rate of food insecurity compared to families with both parents. People of color also tend to register a lower rate of food insecurity due to the fact that most of them are low income earners. Such families have to seek for the federal support in form of national lunch programs as well as food stamp programs.
The reform failed to alleviate poverty which was among the major objectives by the federal government. Welfare reforms did not motivate people to work as the overall effects of the employment created were negative. The people employed were discouraged from attaining benefits as certification procedures were mostly conducted during working hours. States had to be very keen especially in the verification process so that only those with absolute need were offered the benefits.