Has welfare reform given incentives to work?

Welfare reforms were initiated in 1996 when the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) went through a radical transformation. Clinton, the president was focused in making it different from what people knew it. Aids to Families with Dependents or children (AFDC) program was eliminated and replaced with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The main aim or purpose was to make the welfare system different from what it initially was. Giving birth to a child when one was not prepared or could not afford to raise it was an issue highly condemned.

The reform was a way of penalizing single parenthood as it had a negative effect to the overall society. Advocates of the welfare reform argued that there was need to reduce government expenditure so as not to burden the tax payers. It was also found appropriate to encourage people to work rather and stay idle. The reforms were expected to reduce poverty by breaking the vicious circle where single parents would transmit it to their children. The welfare reforms however failed to create incentives for people to work as this paper will discuss.

Initially it was evident that there were some positive effects brought about by the reforms as for instance according to the Department of Health and Human Services millions of Americans shifted from welfare dependency to self sustenance. It was aimed at helping the welfare receipts to achieve independence through work. The welfare reform aimed at encouraging personal responsibility where work was promoted, births outside marriage discouraged and marriages strengthened and supported.

It would encourage the people with the capacity to work to do so and reduce their reliance on welfare. Financial incentives were offered so that families relying on welfare would find it attractive to work rather than to rely on welfare. In an effort to facilitate their effective transition from welfare to work the federal government gave relevant families the required support for child and health care. States had the responsibility of ensuring that parents found jobs easily and were prepared for them.

They were also given the role of designing and implementing policies and programs that would increase employment opportunities while reducing non marital births. The resultant effect of this welfare reform was that the welfare rolls declined significantly. There were also increased earnings for low income single mothers. Child poverty declined substantially especially among the African Americans or the black population. The rate or percentage of children born out of wedlock leveled down and it remained like that for several years down the line.

The Bush administration backed Clinton’s ideas on the welfare reform which he considered effective and he reauthorized the legislation. The major reason behind the establishment of the welfare reforms was to reduce reliance on government. It would support a temporary refuge for those in need instead of viewing the reliance on welfare as a norm people would be empowered to become self reliant. Despite the effects of the 1996 legislation, a substantial number of the population still relied on the welfare rolls and this was to be checked by the reform.

Bush and his administration aimed at encouraging and strengthening of families as single parenthood was surrounded by many challenges that would make it hard for such parents to lead decent lives. The notion behind that school of thought was that when families are strengthened the federal government would reduce its expenditure as it would support lesser single parents. It was also believed that the vicious circle of poverty would be broken if families were to stay intact.

This argument arose from the fact that research had proved that children from two parent families whether from poor or affluent families strived hard to excel in academics. This would place them at a better position in the competitive job market. It was also believed that they were less likely to commit crimes and would not be a threat or jeopardize the country’s security. Again, their chances of suffering from mental problems tend to be minimal compared to those of single mothers and they had a higher chance of positively contributing to the country’s economy.