Essay on U.S Welfare - Essay Prowess

Essay on U.S Welfare


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U.S Welfare


An individual`s level of income determines his or her potential in meeting basic needs and other necessities. High-income earners manage to meet most their needs with ease compared to low-income earners. However, some individuals do not have any source of income, making them live below the poverty line. Apparently, most developed and developing countries adopt and implement welfare programs that bestow the assistance to these needy families. For example, the federal government formulated AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) program, which helps to improve the livelihood of needy families (Gabe Pp. 1-12). This paper pays high attention to the analysis of AFDC welfare program, and the changes that were passed by the Congress in 1996.

Origin of AFDC program

This program came into existence when the federal government passed the social security Act of 1935, with the ultimate aim of creating social insurance for disability and retirement (Gabe Pp. 1-12). Apparently, during this era, the federal government was experiencing a great economic depression, making most Americans to face the challenge of catering their children with necessities such as education, food, healthcare among others. This economic depression stimulated the federal government to include the provision of providing financial aid to needy children, and this made the program to be named aid to dependent children.

The program continued providing financial care to the needy children, until 1950, when this financial aid was extended to one caretaker relative. However, this program was highly criticized by the other Americans claiming that the financial support should also be extended to both needy married couples and unmarried women, rather than focusing on a single caretaker relative. These critics led to the amendment of this provision in 1961, such that both parents could receive the financial support. This made the name of the program to be changed to aid to families with dependent children. However, since 1961, AFDC program continued to be amended in terms of rules, eligibility, benefits amounts, and state coordination (Robert Pp. 1-7).

Individuals who were covered by welfare programs

AFDC program covered all children who come from unemployed or incapacitated parents, expectant women, especially those in the last trimester, and any other person who is deemed important to the child. However, before 1981, children who are above 15 years of age continued to receive financial aid from this program as long as still pursuing their education. After 1981, the Congress amended the eligibility of children, such that financial support is terminated after any children attain his or her 18th birthday (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2013).

Implementation of AFDC program

This program was implemented through the collaboration of both the federal government and the states. However, the federal government gives directives concerning the implementation or amendments to the states, which are then required to respond according to those regulations. For example, in 1935, U.S states were required to designate a single agency that would oversee the administration of this program (Gabe Pp 1-12).

Funding of AFDC program

Funds for run this welfare program was being contributed by both the federal government and the states. For example, states were required to provide cash support to the families with children while the federal government was paying half or more of the total costs of this program. However, federal spending was being provided to the states on an open-end basis. This means that the number of caseloads determined the funding of states by the federal government. The federal law authorized states to give a certain level of cash aid to the eligible families depending on the amount that these states have set for a single family (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2013).

AFDC Reforms that were made by the Congress in 1966

The strategy of funding poor families resulted to the emergence of numerous adverse behaviors which stimulated the Congress to formulate and implement reforms on AFDC welfare program. For example, most parents who were receiving these financial benefits were reluctant to seek employment opportunities since their parental responsibilities were being catered for by the federal government. Moreover, the rate of non-marital births among women increased due to the financial support that they would receive from the federal government and the states. These behaviors led to the increased of the number of welfare caseloads and in the long made the federal government offset salary increments of the working individuals (Gabe Pp 1-12).

In order to address these challenges, the Congress made various changes to the AFDC welfare program. For example, the Congress required states to provide job training programs to all those individuals who would be receiving financial support from the welfare program. This reform aimed at equipping these individuals with the necessary skills of seeking job opportunities, skills performing effectively in the organizations that happen to absorb them among others. In addition, the states were mandated to give parents who were receiving financial benefits job subsidize. For example, these parents were to receive tax credits from the income that they earn. These tax exemptions would enable these parents have sufficient income that would help them take care for their dependent children (Gabe Pp 1-12). In addition, this income would make states reduce financial allocations given to each dependent family, and in the long run reduce the number of caseloads.

Moreover, the states were required to limit the time that poor families would benefit from financial benefits from the welfare program. For example, poor families were to receive financial benefits for the duration of five years (Gabe Pp 1-12). This reform aimed at discouraging individuals from seeking financial benefits from the welfare programs since the benefits short-term. Consecutively, states were authorized to design welfare-to-work programs, and use them in evaluating the effectiveness of their programs.

However, the implementation of these reforms was effective. For example, the findings from welfare-to-work programs revealed that almost all programs led to the reductions of welfare rolls, and significant increases in employment rates. For example, at the end of 2000, welfare recipients reduced by 53%, and the number of caseloads was lower than at any other time (US Government Spending Report 2014).


It is, therefore, evident that AFDC welfare program had both pros and cons to the federal government. The program helped to improve the lives of poor families to greater heights. However, it facilitated to the increase of individuals who relied on the government. Nevertheless, the various reforms that were employed by the Congress helped to reduce these adverse effects of the initial AFDC welfare program.

Work cited

Gabe, Thomas. Trends in Welfare, Work, and the Economic Well-Being of Female-Headed Families with Children. New York: Novinka Books, 2003. Print.

Robert H. Mugge, Aid to families with dependent children: initial findings of the 1961 Report on the characteristics of Recipients, March 1963 bulletin. Retrieved from,

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  TANF,  Tenth Report to Congress.  December 12, 2013.  TANF and MOE Spending and Transfers by Activity, FY 2011.

US Government Spending Report, Total for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families,  fiscal year 2012.  Retrieved January 30, 2014