By Sharon Hays
Hailed as a good luck, welfare reform ended in a dramatic decline within the welfare rolls--from 4.4 million households in 1996 to 2.1 million in 2001. yet what does this "success" appear like to the welfare moms and welfare caseworkers who skilled it? In Flat Broke, With little ones, Sharon Hays tells us the tale of welfare reform from contained in the welfare place of work and contained in the lives of welfare moms, describing the demanding situations that welfare recipients face in coping with their paintings, their households, and the foundations and laws of welfare reform. Welfare reform, skilled at the floor, isn't really a rosy photo. the vast majority of grownup welfare consumers are mothers--over ninety percent--and the cut-off dates imposed by way of welfare reform throw thousands of those typically single, determined girls into the hard work industry, the place they need to settle for low wages, the main menial paintings, the poorest hours, without advantages, and little flexibility. Hays offers a brilliant portrait in their lives--debunking the various stereotypes we now have of welfare recipients--but she additionally steps again to discover what welfare reform finds in regards to the that means of labor and relations existence in our society. specifically, she argues that an inherent contradiction lies on the center of welfare coverage, which emphasizes conventional relations values whilst its ethic of "personal accountability" calls for girls to paintings and depart their youngsters in childcare or at domestic on my own all day lengthy. Hays dedicated 3 years to traveling welfare consumers and welfare workplaces, one in a medium-sized city within the Southeast, one other in a wide, metropolitan zone within the West. Drawing in this hands-on study, Flat Broke, With teenagers is the 1st publication to discover the influence of modern welfare reform on motherhood, marriage, and paintings in women's lives, and the 1st ebook to provide us a portrait of the way welfare reform performs out in hundreds of thousands of neighborhood welfare places of work and in hundreds of thousands of houses around the state.
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Extra info for Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform
Also impacting this process is the organization of the welfare system that has structured the enforcement of those work requirements and time limits and sanctions. The welfare office is, first and foremost, a bureaucracy. It is a world of rigid rules and formal procedures. It is a world where every new welfare client can be represented as a series of numbers: a case number, a number of children, a number of fathers of those children, a number of dollars in cash income, a number of months on welfare, a number of required forms, oaths, and verifications.
Constructing the Work Ethic The model used to train low-income mothers like Carolyn in the work requirements of the Personal Responsibility Act is a model of behaviorism. 7 Under reform, the central punishments used to prod clients into the labor market are time limits, work "participation" rules, and the system of sanctions. " Welfare reform's system of supportive services allows caseworkers to subsidize the costs of childcare, provide bus token and gasoline vouchers, pay for clothing and supplies for work, and, under certain conditions, cover expenses like rent and utility payments.
A look at the process through which these more disturbing outcomes emerge and attention to the larger practical and cultural consequences that follow from them will, I hope, provide some basis for reconsidering the deeper meaning and importance of those original principles and for reevaluating the social changes and the political, economic, and cultural mechanisms that have distorted them. Entering the World of Welfare For three years, from December 1997 to January 2001,1 visited welfare offices and the homes of welfare clients.