Childrenand Social Policy
Theissue of welfare among Americans radically changed the people’slives. Most families are relatively poor and thus trade their welfarechecks for jobs that fetch them minimal wages. Nevertheless, thesejobs and the minimum income generated qualify them for a significantsalary when the time to pay taxes comes. The check comprises acombination of the income generated and refunds from other sectors.The poor families eagerly wait for the payments to arrive as theyfacilitate their survival for a few months while others utilize themoney to invest in lucrative businesses. According to research, theAmerican Dream entails prioritization of an individual’s orfamily’s finances with the aim of facilitating education, a betterlife and a reliable source of income (DiNitto & Johnson, 2015).However, these aspirations of upward and forward mobility are oftenruined by the challenges of attempting to excel in the low-payingjobs. The aim of this paper entails the determination of howdifferent choices within the families would be if welfare did not gothrough such a transformation in 1996 (DiNitto & Johnson,2015).The achievement of this objective will focus on an area ofreform in order to determine its impact on one of the familiesmentioned in the book. It will also determine how accurate thewelfare was portrayed by comparing it to other instances.
Accordingto the book, American Dream: Three women, ten kids, and a nation’sdrive to end welfare, the author focuses on the lives of three womenand their children to accentuate the adversity brought about by thestory of welfare (DeParle, 2011). He also points out to thecontroversial law through the day-to-day activities of three blackwomen who were affected by the welfare law. Most importantly, theauthor indicates that during the political campaigns aimed atelecting Bill Clinton as the president for America, he had vowed toeradicate welfare. However, after four years in office, theinitiative was changed into a law that contributed towards millionsof women and children being sent off the rolls. He determines theeffects brought about by the law to the three women, their extendedfamily and the propagators of the welfare policy (DeParle,2011).These occur through determination of the women’s neighborhoodand the strategy sessions as well as speeches made by PresidentClinton. The book also indicates an essential element that thecharacters possess different temperaments but share the abstractqualities of strength and endurance in catering for their families.
Inhis book, Jason DeParle explores the encounters of three women whoselives have a similar bearing in terms of the struggle for welfare. Angie, the key character, shows her undying desire to have a goodlife through her personate involvement in work. Opal fights to ensurethat her fatherless kids are bestowed equity similar to the otherchildren in the neighborhood. Unlike her peers, Jewell puts all herhopes on his confined husband and hopes that he will one day be freeand united with his family (DeParle, 2005). DeParle displays a strongsense of civilization and demonstrates that even though theconstitution is meant to make the nation a better place for everyone,it sometimes disregards the less fortunate in the society, andtherefore the need for constant restructuring.
Thecase of Opal is an example of a family that had to shift thedirection of their choices as a result of the 1996’s welfaretransformation. Without the transitions, the family would haveremained in the same situation of suffering that their ancestorsunderwent while working on the plantations as slaves. The implicationof this is that the family would not reject the need to travel fromMississippi to Chicago in search of better living conditions (Dean,2014). One important reason that made the family, just like the rest,to continue moving was the fact that they wanted to experience thefreedom that was deemed the component of new generations. They had tomove from one region to another as a way of making sure that thesuffering was resolved and the children salvaged from poverty(DiNitto & Johnson, 2015). Trying out new localities served tomake the Opals forget their suffering that their forefathersunderwent during the old day slavery.
Moreover,they would not have been isolated from the widowhood after droppingout of school and giving birth. Opal was a woman who was forced withearly widowhood as a result of the untimely disappearance of herhusband. The children were made fatherless and the saddest part wasthat they were unable to feel the necessary compassion from theneighborhood. It was a big challenge for the kids because the oldconstitution did not recognize fatherless families as legit. Familieswith no male figures were normally left homeless because the societywas made to believe that they were of lesser value to the community(Dean, 2014). Mrs. Opal was a beneficiary of Clinton’s new welfarepolicy because, as a result of the new policies, she was allowed tosettle in any part of the country. It was unlike in the past when herfamily could not live in Mississippi or Chicago.
Theabsence of welfare transformation, would lead to no new healthpolicies and the result is that the family could never haverecapitalized any form of revolution in wellbeing (DeParle, 2005).The idea of healthcare was of unique importance as regards the 1996welfare change. It was the key element that made the transition fromAFDC to TANF as positive as it was considered. Even though the AFDCwas citizen-oriented, it was not as judicious as the TANF program. Itwas through the emergence of the new features of the constitutionthat the Opals were able to receive healthcare that was well framedfor their condition of destitution and homelessness (DeParle, 2011).While proponents of the old structure never saw the strong parts ofthe new one, most of the beneficiaries may not undermine howimportant the transitions became for their individual families.
Oneaspect that was brought about by the welfare revolution was the ideaof reduced funding and enhanced compensation plan. It was of greatsignificance because it ensured that the poor families could holdgood job positions and be well remunerated. In the past, it would beodd to find people from certain ancestries to hold certain roles inthe government. This was harmful to the economy of the United Statesas it undermined the quality of education that such people had. Theirbackgrounds were a great hindrance to the professions that thegovernment could delegate to them. One could have the necessaryqualifications but because of their pedigree, they could not bepermitted to be involved in the top levels of legislation. The truthbehind this notion was that they could ultimately get to the point ofpower and have the ability to overthrow the government (Dean, 2014).
Additionally,under the new system, the low-class individuals were allowed to workand receive proper wages. They were promised fair remuneration. Theimpact was that everyone had the chance to earn amounts that wereproportional to their job inputs. Standardized remuneration was vitalbecause it ensured that the top management could not injudiciouslygain from the efforts of the laborers. Everyone had the chance toearn as much as they worked. Unlike in the past before thetransformations, women were given equal chances as their malecounterparts. This was no difference in the communities that were inearlier times possessed with the idea of male dominance (DeParle,2011).
Moreimportantly, the federal government also became morecitizen-centered. The legislature campaigned to ascertain that thenational treasury funds were used to finance most projects that wereaimed to help in boosting welfare (DeParle, 2005). Before the welfaretransitions came into light, no one had ever thought of the federalgovernment as a function of the citizens. In other terms, thelegislators were elected by the people but they formed governmentsthat never mindful of the fact that the electorate was a crucialaspect of the country (Dean, 2014). As a result, the new reforms madeit possible for the poor to carry out most of the roles that the oldstructure forbade. Everyone could then showcase their abilitiesthrough various roles and it was the time for them to take part inthe nation building process. It was an important side of Clinton’sleadership because it allowed the low-class members of the society toshare their views with those of the upper class (DiNitto &Johnson, 2015).
Thecontrast between the old welfare system and the new one is a goodshow of how important the reforms were. Gatta and Deprez (2008)explains that it takes a good leader to realize the suffering thatthe unemployed Americans undergo to make sure that new laws are inplace to guarantee them equality (Gatta, M. & Deprez, 2008). Anation is considered wholesome if its spirit of the citizenry is heldin the highest possible esteem. Without equality, the gap in classmay continue to broaden further (Jenson & Fraser, 2015). It wouldbe noteworthy to allow the population equal chances in the healthsector and in the labor market because it is only through this thateveryone can gain from the provisions of the government.
Nocountry can grow if it is held in the old belief system that themiddle class is different from the upper-class and therefore theyshould not benefit from the little benefits by the federalgovernment. The new welfare system was accurately portrayed as it wasthe best way to stop the wealthy citizens from taking advantage oftheir poor counterparts (DeParle, 2005). The president had figuredout the fact that most members of the upper-class obstructedresources from the access of the low class. The result was that theycould find it hard to utilize the results of their voter loyalty. Inthis view, the conversion from AFDC to TANF was positive and it wasthe best gift that the president could offer to the citizens for thebenefit of the subsequent generations.
Nonetheless,if Opal’s family could have chosen the suggestions from Gatta andDeprez’s article, it would be impossible for them to realize thedirect benefits posed by the 1996 welfare reforms. First, they wouldbe forced to separate themselves from the belief that they were poor.The two social scientists argue that every citizen must understandthat it is an individual’s choice to be destitute. With thisconviction, the Opals would feel that the policies were not meant forthem but for an alien group of citizens. Secondly, the family couldhave demanded more meaningful occupations, those deemed fit for thelearned, and it would be difficult for the government to ensure thesuccess of this demand. Third, Gatta and Deprez (2008) claim thateven the duty of child-raising needs to be considered as a legitimateand pensionable. The implication would be that Opal could not havelooked for another job because she already had one. Lastly, thesocial protectionism system would make it challenging for thegovernment to act in ensuring the safety of individuals who may nottake part in the labor market (Gatta, M. & Deprez, 2008).
Accordingto Gatta and Deprez, the welfare propagated by Clinton during hispolitical campaign aimed at reducing the number of people whodepended on it. The strategies employed have worked successfully withthe number of people depending on it reducing by approximately 60percent in most states. However, the data collected by the Committeeon Ways and Means in the United States regarding the issue failed toincorporate instances of how women who left the welfare are doing.The authors focus on studies conducted to point out the fact that in2002 women had stabilized based on the welfare reform in 1996. Thefindings from the studies accentuated that by the year 2000 workparticipation among single mothers who dropped out of high schoolincreased by 40 percent (DeParle, 2011). The increment in workparticipation based on welfare reforms also occurred in othercommunities such as African American single mothers who had 83percent while employment among single mothers advanced to 63 percent(DeParle, 2011).
Thearticle brings out the fact that the transition from the welfaresystem to the employment sector has alleviated very few women frompoverty and some have never become self-sufficient economically. Theauthors indicate that the transition contributed towards womencomprising a significant percentage of people who work in the paidlabor force but live poor lives. The money they earn does notguarantee or sustain their economic survival. The authors furtherpoint out that in the composition of families, those maintained bywomen who have children under the age of 18 years portrayed a hightendency of a poor life as opposed to those with men or both parties(Murray, 2015). These factors bring about the question whether theelimination of welfare dependency among single mothers andtransitioning them into working at minimal wages would succeed.However, leaving the welfare rolls as the main source of successregarding welfare reform does not indicate the way former recipientsconduct their daily activities (Jenson & Fraser, 2015). Thetransition from the reliance of welfare reforms to employment formost women and families with children entails access to opportunitiesthat pay enough for supporting and accessing services such as healthcare.
Inaddition, the American politics possess several controversial issuesthat require recurrent revision to guarantee citizens of moreimproved welfare. The main matter remains inequality that is aproduct of poverty and insufficient job vacancies. However, with thepromising government reforms, the Americans have no doubt that thewelfare system will one day be re-evaluated and restructured so thatit can suit the needs of every citizen.
Conclusively,even though the transitions from AFDC to TANF continues to receivereduced support, it was an important fact that ensured that therewere policies that could handle the matters of poverty, absentfathers, homelessness, and single motherhood in a more informed way(Murray, 2015). DeParle attempts to offer programs as well as policyremedies. He advises the legislative and policy designers on thebetter formulas to assist poor families in satisfying their needs. Healso offers properly documented and well-informed writing with thedetermination to present an accurate description of how poverty,absent fathers, homelessness, and single motherhood are matters worthdiscourse for the well-being of a country. It remains the duty oflegislators to echo, discuss, and be participants in the policydialogue regarding how to better the lives of the women and those oftheir families. Without good programs in place, it may be impossibleto make equality a component of the nation. Similarly, withoutobjectivity, the country may be forced to go back to the old systemof slavery and class gaps (Underwood & Edmunds, 2014). A nationwith few sources left to be shared between the upper class and thepoor marks can never find it easy to get out of the ideology ofslavery.
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