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Welfare Reform Essay, Research Paper

Welfare and welfare reform has been a hot topic amongst politicians and their constituents for years. Feeling the pressure brought on by people crying out for welfare reform President Clinton brought about some changes in our welfare system. Prior to President Clinton?s sweeping reforms this is not the first time that the whole idea of welfare has come under fire; former California governor Wilson, was a strong opponent of welfare. It was he, along with many other people, which really were the ones to spark the welfare reform that President Clinton enacted. These people believed that welfare does not solve anything, it is just letting people become reliant on the government; sucking up money and valuable resources that could be spent elsewhere. For the purpose of this paper if we could just for a moment focus on how President Clinton?s welfare reform policies affect single African-American adolescent mothers.

Despite the multimillion-dollar campaign to educate adolescents on the risks of pre-marital sexual relationships the earlier portion of this decade has seen a dramatic increase in teen pregnancies, there for causing a missive economic backlash that can be felt in everyone?s back pocket. Only now in the past few years has the number of teen pregnancies gone down, in fact in 1997 the number of teen-pregnancies reached an all time low, that quickly started to raise yet again. According to a study in the late 1980?s black adolescents are more likely to become early parents than whites and other ethnic groups. According to that study 14% of adolescents are African-American female; and out all adolescents that have given birth 30% are African-American. It also show that half of all unmarried adolescent mothers are African-American. The study also yields that 40% of all first births of blacks are to teen-age parents; in comparison to the 20% of white teenage parents. "Teenage pregnancy can have significant negative social and economic consequences. Notably, about 40% of teenage pregnancies end in abortion, which is a costly both personal and financial terms and is viewed as morally objectionable by many in our society. The remaining 60% of teenagers that give birth face challenges in maintaining their social lives, achieving higher educational levels and obtaining successful employment."1

Social scientists have found that childbirth exacerbates the problems of poverty and family instability. In t the case of marriage whites are more likely to marry, their mentality is to think that motherhood is a compelling enough reason to leave home. African-Americans families tend to have a stronger bond, helping the mother regardless of their marital status. Blacks realize that their apparent lack of education leaves them in a difficult situation, finding it almost impossible to support a family. In 1987 Wilson "argued that the decline in the economic position of many young black men has mad marriage an increasingly unattractive alternative for young black women. As a result, many black teenage girls may conclude that they have little to lose by having an out-of-wedlock birth, and motherhood may ant the same time, offer them some measure of respect and attention."2 This is not a good thing because, when a family is unable to support itself then they tend to turn to welfare.

Education is key to a good life. Unfortunately for them, black mothers are less likely to reach the same level of economic status than whites. A reason why might be because African-American youths tend to have lower academic standards and become more educationally handicapped than their white counterparts. In today?s society we are more aware than ever that knowledge and education is power and a key to success, without them it is very difficult to become successful in life. It has been documented time and time again that teen pregnancy and drop out rates are in fact related. Reason being that a child is an awesome responsibility and extremely time consuming. Teen parents, even if married cannot keep up with the demands of school and their child at the same time. It takes time and money to raise a child, parents do not make money sitting in a classroom. "Contrary to popular assumption, marriage is not necessarily a solution to the economic problems of the adolescent mother. A negative association has been found between premarital pregnancy and the economic standing of the adolescent after marriage. The need for immediate income constrains the husband and wife in job choices and the ability to pursue educational opportunities."3 To make matters worse families on welfare continue to have children. The reason for the increase in children despite their outstanding economic situation and lack of education the more children a family on welfare has the more aid they receive. Welfare doesn?t give those whom receive it a reason to strive for anything better.

And why should they, people, not only African-Americans, but also most people on welfare have no motivation to search for a job. A welfare recipient picks up a check when it?s available for nothing at all, and the more children they have the more aid they receive. The system only breeds government dependent ticks on society. There is so much aid allocated just for children and their parents it is outrageous. The agency for Aid to Families with Dependent Children or the AFDC has half of their funds dedicated solely to first time adolescent mothers. "In 1970 California?s AFDC benefit level was only 68% that of the median state; twenty years later it was 2.5 times that of the median state. By 1990, California?s benefits package was the second most generous in the union."4 According to the AFDC it is more probable that a family will get off of welfare five years after the birth of their first child. It has been proven in studies that black females "were more likely to go on welfare, and were more likely to receive it longer than were white women, regardless of the age at which childbearing commenced. However, finding suggest that early childbearing increased the risk of contact with the welfare system for African-American much more than it does for white."5 It is not surprising though that not all the money goes directly to the children. There have been many cases where the parents have squandered the money set aside to help their children to help their habits. With this increasing trend the government have taken measures to prevent such abuse of the system. The government has started such programs such as Medicaid, and food stamps. These new programs are designed to help money get to where it should be getting and also to stop welfare critics from attack the already flawed system.

In the process of writing this paper I read many papers, government handouts, statistics, I have come to the following conclusions. The first being that our country needs further welfare reform, the was enacted by president Clinton in 1997 was a step in the right direction but still our country?s welfare situation is in need of dire reform. We must put strict time limits that one can stay on welfare. If it is in the case of a mother and child, if the mother is unable to support the child then perhaps that individual is not fit to be a parent and should have their child taken away. My second conclusion is that welfare should not be just easily given away, but rather to only certain people. We give welfare to everyone, immigrants, disabled people, illegal immigrants, single mothers, families, the unemployed, and so on. Welfare should only be given to those whose life depends on it, it should be given for only a limited time and only once in an individuals life. If we enact my proposed limitation then we can save millions of dollars, and that can be redirected to other programs. My third and final conclusion is that with the entire going on in this country we have loss sight of our basic unit of society, our families. We have become to warped up in the worlds business that we are forgetting about what is happening back home. We should be more concerned about our youths then the bombing of Kosovo or keeping an embargo on Iraq. The family is at the center of all societies. If this country started to promote family values then there would not have all the problems that occur with single mothers. I know that it is hard in a country whose leader has been known for having an affair, but still we must try. We must start to promote good moral values that do not look lightly on teen pregnancy. On the topic of welfare, I think that even more massive welfare reform is on its way in the near future. There?re just too many problems, problems that we cannot afford to overlook.

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