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2. Representative Ford's Welfare Reform Bill
A comprehensive bill was drafted by Representative Harold Ford (D-Tenn.), who chairs the Subcommittee on Public Assistance and Unemployment Compensation of the House Committee on Ways and Means. Under his leadership, the subcommittee convened six hearings in 1986 on the subject of work, education, and training opportunities for welfare recipients. 125 The subcommittee held an additional six hearings in 1987, and Congressman Ford proposed legislation in March. 126
The bill would require all nonexempt adult AFDC recipients to participate in a supported work, education, and training program. To target limited resources, priority would be placed on serving teen parents, long-term AFDC recipients, and families with children under age six. A client assessment would be made to determine the necessary educational needs, skills, and employability of each participant. Based upon this assessment, the client would sign a contract stating the length of participation and the required activities. In return, the entire family would receive case management services and necessary support services (child care, transportation, and Medicaid). Sanctions would be imposed for failure to meet the terms of the contract.
Each state would be allowed to offer a range of activities, although high school/equivalency education must be provided for participants who do not have a high school degree. States could offer remedial education, group and individual job search, on-the-job training, skills training, grant diversion/ supported work, workfare, and employment or personal counseling. Participants who obtain jobs under this program would receive the applicable minimum wage and would be eligible for worker's compensation, but could not displace permanent workers. Performance standards would be developed for the program based upon placement rates, cost effectiveness, and ability to serve the most difficult to employ. Data collection and evaluation would be required and coordination with other employment, training, and education programs in the state would be encouraged. Special provisions would be made for teen parents, including more intensive case-management services. Only minors who live with their parents would receive AFDC. The AFDC grandparent-deeming provision would be repealed.
The bill proposes that Medicaid be available to all
124. These would include child care and transportation. 125. Work, Education, and Training Opportunity for Welfare Recipients, Hearings Before the Subcomm. on Public Assistance and Unemployment Compensation of the House Comm. on Ways and Means, 99th Cong., 2d Sess. (1986).
126. H.R. 1720, 100th Cong., 1st Sess., 133 CONG. REC. H1497-98 (daily ed. Mar. 19, 1987).
families who leave welfare without adequate health insurance and that child care assistance be provided on a sliding fee scale. These services would be available for one year after leaving AFDC. The bill also proposes simplifying the AFDC earned income disregards by changing them to a standard deduction plus 25 percent of earnings and adjusting them annually for inflation, and by disregarding the earned income tax credit for AFDC purposes.
E. Other Initiatives
A number of congressional committees and other interested groups are developing welfare reform proposals. The Subcommittee on Social Security and Family Policy of the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), held a series of five hearings on the subject "Welfare: Reform or Replacement?”. At the first hearing in late January, Senator Moynihan expressed his concern that the current system is so flawed that an entirely new structure of public assistance that focuses on the needs of children is required. 127 During the hearings, Senator Moynihan focused on three principles: parents must assume responsibility for their children; able-bodied parents should work to support their children, including single mothers, who should work at least part-time; and the government must provide supportive services to enable parents to secure and retain jobs outside the home. If parental support payments and earnings are insufficient to care adequately for children, then Senator Moynihan suggests that it might be appropriate to offer a time-limited child support payment to the custodial parent.
Welfare dependence is the key issue for the National Governors' Association, which adopted a reform program at its February 1987 meeting. 130 The principles guiding its work are:
allowing state flexibility for education/work programs; requiring all able-bodied parents, including single mothers with children over age three, to work; implementing a contract system to define the mutual responsibilities of the state government and welfare recipients;
using a case management system to provide support services to the education/work program participants; and
⚫ developing a cash assistance system that would establish a state-defined living standard.
127. Welfare: Reform or Replacement?, Hearings Before the Subcomm. on Social Security and Family Policy of the Senate Comm. on Finance, 100th Cong., 1st Sess (1987) (statement of Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan).
128. Id. at 8-9.
129. S. 514, 100th Cong., 1st Sess., 133 CONG. REC. S1958-61 (daily ed. Feb. 5, 1987).
130. National Governors' Association, Policy on Welfare Reform (1987).
The governors recognize that a work program will only be successful if the necessary support services are available. They also realize the importance of child support enforcement, quality day care, maternal and child health care, and Medicaid for some time period after leaving welfare. In addition, they want to address the issues that they believe contribute to welfare dependency, such as adolescent pregnancy, illegitimacy, high school incompletion, and drug and alcohol abuse.
A coalition of almost 100 religious, welfare, and citizens' groups joined together in December 1986 to issue a Statement of Principles as the foundation for a welfare reform plan. Like other proposals, this one acknowledges the importance of work opportunities for welfare recipients, but it emphasizes the primary role of the federal government in guaranteeing a minimum standard of living. The coalition was organized by Washington-based organizations, including the Food Research and Action Center, Wider Opportunities for Women, the National Urban League, and the National Council of Churches. The principles are:
(1) Persons who work should be rewarded for their efforts. They should receive income sufficient to support a family and access to necessary health care and child care. Barriers to the employment of low-income persons should be eliminated.
(2) Job opportunities, job counseling, training, education, placement, and supportive services should be widely available as primary tools to prevent and overcome poverty.
(3) The federal government should assure a minimum standard of living-including sufficient food, clothing, shelter, and medical care-to those in poverty.
(4) Additional investments should be made in programs proved successful in preventing future poverty and its ill effects.
(5) Welfare policies should aid both one- and two-parent families in need. Existing child support laws should be more effectively enforced.
(6) In achieving the objectives above, the federal government should maintain a strong presence, setting minimum benefit standards, providing adequate resources for effective programs, and supporting appropriate and effective state and local initiatives. 132
There are some common threads that run through the proposals discussed above. There is general agreement that the
current public assistance system should be changed to focus more on work and education as ways to strengthen family responsibility and economic independence. Many of the work/ education proposals suggest that, like ET Choices, these programs must be tailored to meet the individual needs of clients, and acknowledge that these programs will only be successful if they provide participants with the necessary support services. In addition, there seems to be agreement on the need to improve child support enforcement and to reduce adolescent pregnancy. Some proposals are supportive of the Wisconsin child support assurance approach.
Many proposals directly or indirectly recognize that minimum-wage jobs without benefits will not alleviate poverty. Thus, they propose continuing Medicaid coverage as well as subsidized child care as transitional services. In the area of jobs and job training, most proposals favor continuing the state flexibility that now exists, rather than establishing a uniform national program. However, there is a renewed emphasis on serving the most disadvantaged people with more intensive programs.
Except for the proposals offered by the White House Domestic Policy Council, the suggested changes also include improvements in the basic income support programs. Establishing a national minimum AFDC benefit, expanding the AFDC program to include two-parent families, and broadening the number of people eligible for Medicaid are the most common suggestions.
At this point, it appears that welfare reform will be a major issue for discussion in the 100th Congress. The Administration has proposed legislation for state experiments as recommended by the Hobbs Report. 133 Senator Kennedy has already introduced a job training bill, and Senator Moynihan plans to sponsor welfare reform legislation. It is quite likely that other members will also develop legislative proposals. Further, several congressional committees have held or scheduled hearings so that individuals and organizations concerned about public assistance and job training programs can testify.
It is too early to predict whether all this activity will produce any significant change, particularly given the tremendous concern about the budget deficit and the need to reduce government spending. Low-income people and advocates, however, should watch these developments to ensure that proposed welfare changes reflect the diversity of the poverty population, address the needs of impoverished single mothers as well as poor men, and help to improve the standard of living for all low-income Americans.
131. Welfare Reform Statement of Principles (Dec. 22, 1986) (available from the Center for Law & Social Policy, attn: Nancye Lamb).
133. S. 610, 100th Cong., 1st Sess., 133 CONG. REC. S2495-96 (daily ed. Feb. 26, 1987).
Current Bibliography on
W. BELL, AID TO DEPENDENT CHILDREN (1965).
FIGHTING POVERTY: WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN'T (S. Danziger & D. Weinberg eds. 1986).
Lewis & Schneider, Hard Times: The Public on Poverty, PUB. OPINION, June/July 1985.
Reisenfeld, The Formative Era of American Public Assistance Law, 43 Calif. L. Rev. 175 (1975).
G. STEINER, THE STATE OF Welfare (1971) (published by the Brookings Institute.).
The Current Status of Welfare Programs
J. BICKERMAN, Unemployed and Unprotected (1985) (published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).
Danziger & Gottschalk, How Have Families with Children Been Faring? (Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Paper 801-86 Jan. 1986).
B. LEYSER, A. BLONG, & J. Riggs, Beyond the MYTHS (1985) (published by the Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law).
B. BLUESTONE & B. HARRISON, THE GREAT AMERICAN JOB MACHINE, A STUDY PREPARED FOR THE JOINT ECONOMIC COMMITTEE OF CONGRESS, 99th Cong., 2d Sess. (1986).
Clark & Corrigan, Ronald Reagan's Economy, NAT'L J., Dec. 13, 1986, at 2982-99.
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE, THE MINIMUM WAGE: ITS RELATIONSHIP to Incomes and Poverty (1986).
Danziger & Gottschalk, Unemployment Insurance and the Safety Net for the Unemployed (Institute for Research on Poverty 1986).
SEX SEGREGATION IN THE WORK PLACE: Trends, Explanations, RemeDIES (B. Reskin ed. 1984).
WOMEN, WORK and Wages: EQUAL PAY FOR JOBS OF EQUAL VALUE (D. Treiman & H. Hartmann eds. 1981).
Culture of Poverty/Underclass
K. AULETTA, The Underclass (1982).
Bane & Ellwood, Slipping into and Out of Poverty: The Dynamics of Spells (National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Working Paper 1199 Sept. 1983).
Bane & Ellwood, The Dynamics of Children's Living Arrangements (1984) (HHS-100-82-0038).
Bane & Ellwood, Single Mothers and Their Living Arrangements (1984) (HHS-100-82-0038).
Blank, How Important Is Welfare Dependence? (Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Paper No. 821-86 Oct. 1986).
Corcoran, Duncan, Gurin, & Gurin, Myth and Reality: The Causes and Persistence of Poverty, 4 J. POL'Y ANALYSIS & MGMT. 516 (1985).
D. ELLWOOD, TARGETING WOULD Be Long-Term Recipients of AFDC (report prepared for HHS by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. Jan.
Lemann, The Origins of the Underclass, ATLantic Monthly, June 1986, at 31-35, and July 1986, at 54-68.
D. Mohnihan, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (prepared for U.S. Dep't of Labor, Office of Family Planning & Research 1965).
Norton, Restoring the Traditional Black Family, N.Y. Times, June 2, 1985, Magazine at 43, 79, 93, 96, 98.
J. O'NEILL, L. Bassi, & M. Hannan, An Analysis of Time on Welfare (report prepared for HHS by the Urban Institute June 1984). Wilson & Neckerman, Poverty and Family Structure: The Widening Gap Between Evidence and Public Policy Issues, in FIGHTING Poverty: WHAT WORKS And What Doesn'T 232-59 (S. Danziger & D. Weinberg eds. 1986).
Feminization of Poverty
Besharov & Dally, How Much Are Working Mothers Working?, PUB. OPINION, Nov./Dec. 1986, at 48-51.
Garfinkel & Oellerich, Noncustodial Fathers' Ability to Pay Child Support (Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Paper 815-86, 1986).
Law, Women, Work, Welfare and the Preservation of Patriarchy, 131 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1249 (1983).
D. PEARCE & H. MCADOO, WOMEN AND CHILDREN: ALONE AND IN POVERTY (1981) (published by the National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity).
Roberts, Ameliorating the Feminization of Poverty: Whose Responsibility?, 18 Clearinghouse REV. 883 (Dec. 1984).
R. SIDEL, WOMEN AND CHILdren Last (1986).
Danziger & Gottschalk, The Poverty of Losing Ground, Challenge, May/June 1985, at 32-38.
L. GALLOWAY & R. VEDDER, PAYING PEOPLE TO BE POOR (National Center for Policy Analysis Report 121, 1986).
Greenstein, Losing Faith in Losing Ground, NEW REPUBLIC, Mar. 25, 1985, at 12-17.
L. MEAD, BEYOND ENTITLEMENTS: THE SOCIAL Obligations of Citizenship (1985).
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C. MURRAY, LOSING GROUND: AMERICAN SOCIAL POLICY, 1950-1980 (1984).
F. PIVEN & R. CLOWARD, REGULATING THE POOR: THE FUNCTIONS of Public Welfare (1971).
CENTER ON BUDGET POLICY PRIORITIES, FOOD STAMP EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING REsource Guide (1986).
D. Ellwood, Working Off of Welfare: Prospects and Policies for Self-Sufficiency of Women Heading Families (Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Paper 803-86 Mar. 1986).
Gueron, Work Initiatives for Welfare Recipients (1986) (published by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corp.).
KETRON, INC., FOOD STAMP WORKFARE DEMONSTRATION PROJECT: REPORT ON THE SHORT-TERM IMPACT OF THE FIRST YEAR PROJECT
Moffitt, Work Incentives in the AFDC System: An Analysis of the 1981 Reforms, Am. Econ. Rev., May 1986, at 219-23.
A. Nichols-Casebolt, I. Garfinkel, & P. Wong, Reforming Wisconsin's Child Support System (Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Paper 793-85, 1985).
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Welfare Reform Proposals
AMERICAN PUBLIC WELFARE ASSOCIATION, INVESTING IN POOR Families and THEIR CHILDREN: A Matter of Commitment (1986).
DOMESTIC POLICY LOW-INCOME OPPORTUNITY WORKING GROUP, UP FROM DEPENDENCY (Dec. 1986).
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SUGARMAN & TURNER, FAMILY INDEPENDENCE PROGRAM: A PROPOSAL TO THE HON. BOOTH GARDNER, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON (report of the Departments of Social and Health Services and Employment Security Nov. 1986).
TASK FORCE ON POVERTY AND WELFARE, A NEW SOCIAL CONTRACT: RETHINKING THE NATURE AND PURPOSE OF PUBLIC Assistance (1986) (submitted to New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo).
Recent Developments on Welfare Reform
As this article goes to press, a number of bills proposing reform in the welfare system have been introduced in the 100th Congress. The following is a brief description of these bills.
The Reagan Administration has developed three welfare reform initiatives from the Domestic Policy Council reports. These bills include state demonstration projects, an expanded summer youth employment and training program, and a revised WIN program.
The proposed demonstration projects (S. 610, H.R. 1288) would grant authority to states to fund public assistance benefits through waivers of certain "anti-poverty programs." There are 59 programs that could qualify for these waivers. Through these demonstration projects, states would have maximum flexibility to determine how to provide public assistance benefits, i.e. as cash, in-kind, vouchers, insurance, or services. States would be required to conduct evaluations with either a control group or an alternative method to measure the results.
A second proposal that is part of the President's trade bill (S. 539, H.R. 1155) would amend the Job Training Partnership Act to allow an enriched year-round program for AFDC youth. This program would provide classroom training, on-the-job training, work experience, job search, and counseling. If participant assessment indicated the need, the program would have to offer services such as drug/alcohol abuse counseling, pregnancy/pregnancy prevention counseling, and child care classes. Programs would have the option to provide participants with the necessary support services. The Department of Labor would develop performance standards. The Administration requested an additional $50 million for this program and proposed to revise the allocation formula to target funds for economically disadvantaged youth.
Under the third proposal, which is also contained in the trade bill, the current WIN program would be repealed to allow state welfare agencies to design their own education, training, and work programs as part of their public assistance plans. States could offer a range of options, including job search, community work experience, work supplementation, remedial education, JTPA activities, and short-term training. All able-bodied AFDC recipients except mothers with children under six months of age would be required to participate, and all participants would have to complete high school or its equivalent. States must provide child care, transportation, and other support services. Performance standards would establish specific target participation levels, with higher target levels for teenagers, including teen mothers.
The current federal 50-percent match rate would continue for administrative and support services costs, but states would have to fund their own education/work programs. The Administration requests an additional $94 million for adult education over the next five years as part of this proposal.
Representative Harold Ford's (D-Tenn.) Family Welfare Reform Act of 1987 (H.R. 1720) would replace AFDC with a new program emphasizing work, child support, and family support supplements. This bill was referred to the Committees on Ways and Means, Education and Labor, and Energy and Commerce, and it is scheduled to move quickly during the spring.
In addition to the provisions described in the above article, the Ford bill also addresses child support enforcement. The bill proposes that states use mandatory guidelines to establish and review child support orders and have procedures to automatically update all orders. States would also be required to establish paternity for all children before age 18. States could run demonstration projects to determine the magnitude of the visitation problem and to test solutions including mediation. The child support disregard would be increased to $100. HHS would have to establish time limits for states to respond to requests for child support assistance.
Representative Sander Levin (D-Mich.) introduced the Work Opportunities and Retraining Compact (WORC) (H.R. 1696) to authorize state welfare agencies to provide education and training services to AFDC recipients. The program mandates registration, counseling, and assessment for all AFDC recipients and participation by all parents with children over age six. Parents with children between age three and six must participate on a part-time basis. The program would include all education and training activities authorized under WIN, JTPA, vocational