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The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996

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... The emphasis on personal responsibility in the face of structural problems is hardly new; in fact, it is a core tenet of neoliberal discourse (Marwick, 2013). For instance, in 1996 President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) into law, which he said would "end welfare as we know it" (Watts & Astone, 1997). A cornerstone of the Republican "Contract With America," the PRWORA took aim at a purported culture of dependency, where welfare recipients supposedly enjoyed government largess and gave birth to children without a sense of responsibility for them, who then grew up seeing unmarried parenthood as normal (Watts & Astone, 1997). ...
... For instance, in 1996 President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) into law, which he said would "end welfare as we know it" (Watts & Astone, 1997). A cornerstone of the Republican "Contract With America," the PRWORA took aim at a purported culture of dependency, where welfare recipients supposedly enjoyed government largess and gave birth to children without a sense of responsibility for them, who then grew up seeing unmarried parenthood as normal (Watts & Astone, 1997). Crucial to this reform effort was a discourse of welfare recipients as "welfare queens" and media depictions of social service recipients as black women which, as Cassiman (2008) argues, played on racist, sexist imaginaries. ...
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While few studies examine the online privacy practices or attitudes of young people of low socio-economic status (SES), they are often at the most risk of and most susceptible to privacy violations. This participatory, collaborative study of 28 low-SES young adults in the New York City area investigates how they view online information sharing. Like most Americans, our participants viewed online privacy as an individual responsibility. We make two primary contributions. First, participants revealed extensive awareness of the risks of sharing information online, and many avoided social media, self-censored, or obfuscated their contributions as a result. Second, many participants had extensive experience with policing and physical surveillance and were aware they could not avoid such encounters through their own efforts. This window into structural discrimination provides an alternate frame to that of “individual responsibility” that educators and researchers can use to conceptualize how privacy is violated online. Framing online privacy violations as inevitable and widespread may not only help foster activist anger and strategic resistance but also avoid the victim-blaming narratives of some media literacy efforts. By examining the experiences of these young people, who are often left out of mainstream discussions about privacy, we hope to show how approaches to managing the interplay of on- and offline information flows are related to marginalized social and economic positions.
... Among migrant farmworkers, harsh working conditions significantly predict symptoms of anxiety and depression [29]. Under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), permanent residents are ineligible for public assistance during their first five years in the U.S. [51]. Recently, "the public charge rule", a broader interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) § 212(a)(4), which states that individuals are inadmissible to the U.S. if they are "likely at any time to become a public charge", has discouraged noncitizens from pursuing needed benefits prior to regulating their status [52]. ...
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Latinx (im)migrant groups remain underserved by existing mental health resources. Past research has illuminated the complex factors contributing to this problem, including migration-related trauma, discrimination, anti-immigrant policies, and structural vulnerability. This paper uses decolonial-inspired methods to present and analyze results from two studies of Latinx (im)migrant communities in central California and southern Connecticut in the United States. Using mixed quantitative and qualitative analysis, we demonstrate the intersectional complexities to be addressed in formulating effective mental health services. Relevant social and structural factors including knowledge of mental health, access to insurance, and experiencing discrimination were significantly associated with anxiety symptoms, based on linear regression analysis. Ethnographic interviews demonstrate how complex trauma informs mental health needs, especially through the gendered experiences of women. Overlapping aspects of gender, language barriers, fear of authorities, and immigration status contoured the lived experiences of Latinx (im)migrants. Thematic analyses of open-ended survey responses also provide recommendations for solutions based on the experiences of those directly affected by these health disparities, particularly relating to healthcare access, affordability, and capacity. Building from these findings and past research, we recommend the adoption of a comprehensive model of mental health service provision for Latinx (im)migrants that takes into account Indigenous language access, structural competency, expanded health insurance, and resources for community health workers.
... The Boarding School Era (1860 contributed significantly to the historical and intergenerational trauma of Native Americans by disrupting familial bonds and preventing the normal transmission of parenting customs and lifeways across generations (Engel et al ., 2012;Haag, 2007) . The boarding schools remained common until after World War II, when social workers began moving children to White foster and adoptive homes (Brown & Estes, 2018), although the Boarding School Era spans the years 1860 to 1978 (Pember, 2019) . ...
... The interrupted time series analyses unequivocally show that the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 achieved its primary objective of 'ending welfare as we know it'. (Clinton 1996). The replacement of the AFDC programme with one that established more Y t * = a t + ω o I t (1-θ 1 B)a t = (1-B)Y t I t = 0 for observations 1-61 θ 1 = −0.705, ...
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On 22 August 1996, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (House Bill, 3734). According to the final version of this legislation, this reduction in the size and cost of aid to the poor was to be accomplished by reducing the number of births to unmarried women, the number of births to teens, and by providing the motivation and means to enter the labour force. The interrupted time series analyses indicate that the implementation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF] welfare programme did produce a substantial and lasting decline in the number of welfare recipients and in the birth rate per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19. However, there is no evidence that it did so because of its effect on the birth rate of unmarried women, household structure of families, or participation in the labour force.
... When former President Clinton signed the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 into law, he included at his side several black mothers who had "escaped" the ravages of welfare dependency and poverty (Watts, 1997). The bill the President signed removed all reference to race, but the ceremony suggested that race, class and gender, and in particular, poor black mothers, were integral to the bill. ...
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The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 promoted employment as one of the key strategies for lifting families out of poverty and off welfare. The welfare to work policies implemented under the new Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program require that most TANF recipients be employed in order to receive benefits. Throughout the past few years sociologists have been increasingly questioning whether all individuals on welfare benefit equally from welfare to work policies. Accordingly, this paper presents a socio-demographic portrait of employed mothers on welfare. Specifically, we use state-level data from the Administration of Children and Families (ACF) to address the following questions: 1) What role does race play in employment and earnings for mothers who receive welfare?; 2) In what ways does marital status intersect with race to facilitate or restrict employment and earnings?; and 3) Who are the biggest beneficiaries of policies that require individuals on welfare to work? Critical race and intersectional theories are applied to help explain the findings. The paper concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of the findings and directions for future research.
... One specific structural barrier experienced by Hispanic and Latino patients was that nearly 50% were enrolled in Medicaid only 1-3 months during a given calendar year. This can be tied to immigration policies that hinder access to treatment and care, including The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 [25]. It requires persons who gain permanent residence in the United States to wait a period of 5 years to receive such services as Medicaid [26]. ...
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The purpose of this study was to explore the racial and ethnic disparities in initiation of antiretroviral treatment (ARV treatment or ART) among HIV-infected Medicaid enrollees 18-64 years of age in 14 southern states which have high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and high racial disparities in HIV treatment access and mortality. We used Medicaid claims data from 2005 to 2007 for a retrospective cohort study. We compared frequency variances of HIV treatment uptake among persons of different racial- ethnic groups using univariate and multivariate methods. The unadjusted odds ratio was estimated through multinomial logistic regression. The multinomial logistic regression model was repeated with adjustment for multiple covariates. Of the 23,801 Medicaid enrollees who met criteria for initiation of ARV treatment, only one third (34.6%) received ART consistent with national guideline treatment protocols, and 21.5% received some ARV medication, but with sub-optimal treatment profiles. There was no significant difference in the proportion of people who received ARV treatment between black (35.8%) and non-Hispanic whites (35.7%), but Hispanic/Latino persons (26%) were significantly less likely to receive ARV treatment. Overall ARV treatment levels for all segments of the population are less than optimal. Among the Medicaid population there are no racial HIV treatment disparities between Black and White persons living with HIV, which suggests the potential relevance of Medicaid to currently uninsured populations, and the potential to achieve similar levels of equality within Medicaid for Hispanic/Latino enrollees and other segments of the Medicaid population.
... With regard to gender and race, ''get tough'' welfare policies are implicitly connected to public and political images of the problems of black women and the black community (Beckett and Sasson 2004;Schram 2005;Monnat 2010). When former President Clinton signed PRWORA into law in 1996, he had several black women and children at his side, and these women spoke at the ceremony about how they escaped welfare dependency (Watts 1997). Thus, even the ceremony surrounding the passage of welfare reform reinforced the public association between the ''problems'' of black women and the need for more punitive control via more restrictive welfare policies and reduced spending. ...
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Female imprisonment rates have increased proportionately more than male imprisonment rates over recent decades. There are substantial race differences in women’s rates, as is the case for men. Yet, there has been little quantitative research on the correlates of women’s imprisonment using data over time, or on potential race differences in those correlates. The present research analyzes data on black and nonblack female imprisonment rates in the 50 states for the period 1981–2003. The analyses are guided substantively by existing research on race, social threat and criminal punishment, and theory and research on the penal-welfare hypothesis. The study uses bivariate-response multilevel modeling to simultaneously examine the factors associated with black and nonblack women’s imprisonment rates. The results show that black female imprisonment rates increase when the concentration of African Americans in metropolitan areas and poverty rates grow, whereas nonblack female imprisonment rates are unaffected by poverty rates and actually decrease when African American populations become more concentrated in metro areas. Both black and nonblack women’s imprisonment rates increase when welfare spending declines. The results are consistent with social threat perspectives and the penal-welfare hypotheses.
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Objective: Although studies suggest that employment promotes mental health, it is unclear whether this pattern extends to low-income urban women with children who are disproportionately employed in unstable jobs and often unable to obtain child care. In this paper, we consider whether becoming employed reduces symptoms of psychological distress among low-income women with children. We also assess whether having trouble securing adequate child care offsets these benefits. Study design: We use longitudinal data from the Welfare, Children, and Families project, a probability sample of low-income women with children living in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio, to test whether becoming employed reduces symptoms of psychological distress over time and whether having trouble securing child care moderates this association. Results: We find that employment is associated with lower levels of distress among women who have no trouble with child care and higher levels of distress among women who struggle with child care. Conclusion: Taken together, our results suggest that valuing the benefits of paid work over unpaid work is an oversimplification and that the emphasis on placing poor women with children into paid work could be misguided. Policies that focus on moving low-income women off of government assistance and into paid work could be more effective if greater resources were devoted to increasing access to quality child care.
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This is an overview essay on the 1996 welfare legislation and its consequences. The paper is divided into five parts: (1) The basic elements of the legislation; (2) The conservative assumptions undergirding this legislation and the progressive responses to them; (3) The consequences of the legislation for individuals and families; (4) The missing elements in the new welfare legislation,. and (5) The progressive solution to welfare.
Chapter
Legal TheoriesMoral ConsiderationsPostscript
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This article examines the effects of living arrangements on the well-being of mothers with a serious mental illness. Analyses of data from a National Institute of Mental Health-funded study of an urban, primarily African American sample of 379 mothers with mental illness revealed few differences in parenting or social functioning between mothers living with their children and a spouse or partner and those living with their children only. However, mothers living with their children and extended family had significantly better outcomes than women in the other two living arrangements. Structural equation modeling analyses indicated that living with relatives significantly related to mothers' well-being (social functioning and parenting) above and beyond relatives' provision of social support. Multilevel modeling revealed racial differences in the effects of living with relatives on functioning and parenting stress: Effects were positive for African American mothers but mixed for white American mothers.
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In this article, we draw on critical race theory and critical race feminism to deconstruct contemporary US welfare policy. The political framing of work requirements, single motherhood, and ‘citizenship’ under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 are used to illustrate the racism, sexism, and classism that pervade current regulations. Drawing on Hurtado’s (1996) conceptualization of the ‘Pendejo Game’, we argue that political elites feign ignorance of poverty and structural inequities to legitimate policies that maintain economic disparities. We conclude with suggestions for disrupting the Pendejo Game and promoting economic justice.
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Applied Research Applied Research papers synthesize and interpret current research on violence against women, offering a review of the literature and implications for policy and practice. The Applied Research initiative represents a collaboration between the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and the Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse. VAWnet is a project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. "Although analyses of current financial statistics in relation to reported domestic violence (DV) incidents have yet to be completed, a sizable body of research that examines various economic indicators provides a framework for understanding how economic stress may contribute to DV. At the same time, available research indicates that DV may also produce financial hardship for DV victims. This paper reviews the research on the reciprocal economic stress -DV relationships, focusing in particular." A s the recession that began in December 2007 worsened throughout 2008 and into 2009, many families saw their financial status plummet.1 Unemployment rates climbed to their highest levels since the early 1980s, the average length of unemployment reached its highest level since the federal government began tracking these data in 1948, and the number of home foreclosures rose steeply as well (Andrews, 2009; Goodman, 2009). At the same time, domestic violence (DV) agencies began reporting increases in the number of calls they were receiving for help from battered women (e.g., Dethy, 2009; Smith, 2009).2 Such reports are perhaps not surprising given research that shows that among couples who report subjectively feeling high levels of financial strain the DV rate is 9.5% compared with 2.7% for couples who report subjectively feeling low levels of financial strain (Benson & Fox, 2004). But while these data suggest a strong direct association between economic stress and domestic violence, studies indicate that the relationship is reciprocal in nature. That is, while economic stress and hardship may increase the risk of domestic violence, domestic violence may also cause financial problems for DV survivors and entrap them in poverty and an abusive relationship. In this document, we review research that highlights how various aspects of economic stress and hardship may elevate the risk for DV and its impact as well as how DV may in turn contribute to economic stress and hardship. We will consider employment issues, community and social support networks, physical and mental health problems, and weaknesses in social service systems, particularly Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF, more commonly called welfare). We will conclude by exploring how this research may inform advocacy and social programs. First, however, we will examine data on DV rates across social classes.
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Policy makers, public administrators, the media, and others are celebrating the “success” of the latest version of welfare reform, codified into law by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Most often, success is defined in terms of declining case loads or some other economic measure—a practice that does not provide a true sense of the impact of policy changes such as welfare reform. Assessing the human impact of policy change requires more than evaluating economic outcomes; it requires knowing the resources of beneficiaries of social services and their conditions of life from various perspectives. Thus, we must strive for greater understanding about the sociocultural aspects of people’s lives that create the whole person—aspects such as health, family and friendship networks, housing situations, public and private support service and program use, conditions of work, and so forth. This is how we come to understand one’s quality of life. The present research creates a conceptual model of quality of life and illustrates the model using data from a follow–up study of former welfare recipients in a county in northern Virginia. Evaluation activities that are premised on a quality–of–life model will help policy actors understand the impact of policies and how public institutions can be managed strategically within their very complex contexts, especially in an era of welfare reform.
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In this article we call for a research agenda focused on classism and poverty and for advocacy of social justice. Examples of recent efforts toward such an agenda are discussed, including the American Psychological Association's adoption of its “Resolution on Poverty and Socioeconomic Status.” In response to the resolution's call for more research on classist attitudes and discrimination against the poor, we outline several directions for future research. Recommendations for how psychological research can be used to advocate for economic justice are offered.
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The task of this paper is to offer an analysis of the Faith-Based and Community Initiative (FBCI) established by George W. Bush and continued under the Obama administration based on a critical and decentred approach to governance (networks). The paper starts out by placing FBCI in the context of the welfare reform of 1996 arguing that both share certain basic assumptions, for example, regarding the nature of poverty, and that FBCI can be interpreted as a response to the relative failure of some aspects of the reform of 1996. In what follows, FBCI is analysed as a typical case of (welfare) state restructuring from government to governance. Emphasis is given to the way discourses and traditions such as communitarianism and public choice have shaped the formation of this new governance arrangement in the field of social service delivery in order to strive for a ‘decentring’ of FBCI by drawing attention to actors' beliefs and worldviews. Finally, I argue that it is not least because of a divergence of such views between policy-makers and faith-based organizations that the effect of FBCI remains for the time being limited.
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A series of studies has demonstrated that sick children fare better when their parents are present. To examine working conditions that determine whether parents can spend time with and become involved in the care of their children when they are sick. Survey with a multivariate analysis of factors influencing parental care of sick children. Mixed-income urban working parents aged 26 to 29 years participating in the Baltimore Parenthood Study. Only 42% of working parents in our sample cared for their young children when they became sick. A multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to predict which parents stayed at home when their children were sick. Those parents who had either paid sick or vacation leave were 5.2 times as likely to care for their children themselves when they were sick. Of parents with less than a high school education, 17% received paid leave, compared with 57% of parents with a general equivalency diploma, 76% of parents with a high school diploma, and 92% of parents with more than a high school education (P<.001). The finding that many parents were unable to care for their sick children themselves is important for pediatric care. While low-income children are more likely to face marked health problems and to be in need of parental care, they are more likely to live in households in which parents lack paid leave and cannot afford to take unpaid leave.
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The purpose of this study was to provide an overview of welfare reform and its impact on the substance-abusing recipient. The data for this paper were derived from sources including the US Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The number of individuals on public assistance has decreased in the years following implementation of welfare reform legislation. Factors relevant to transitioning welfare recipients into the workplace, such as transportation and childcare, have special ramifications for the drug-using population. Additionally, these individuals require treatment for their addictions in order to become employable. The issue of concern is that recipients may be deterred from seeking benefits by various provisions of welfare reform legislation and turn instead to other sources (including illicit activities) for sustenance. Welfare caseloads have been dropping over the past two years. However, the number of substance abusers continues to rise. It is not known in what ways welfare reform will affect substance abusers who are welfare recipients. Important policy issues arise from this nexus; it is argued that these issues will require careful investigation.
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One goal of this paper is to present an integrated tripartite model of violence, with a focus on structural violence within an oppression paradigm. Using qualitative and quantitative data from 27 women (70% African American and 30% European American) who participated in a national substance abuse treatment demonstration program, we describe a model of violence in which structural violence is presented within a transactional relationship with interpersonal, and intrapersonal violence. We suggest that the effects of structural, interpersonal, and intrapersonal violence are magnified when race and poverty are considered. The second goal of the paper is to present a preliminary test of the new model of violence. Results indicated that different levels and types of violence are interrelated. Implications of these findings for empowering solutions are suggested.
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We examined the effect peers have on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients' employment behavior. Nondrug using and chronic drug using TANF recipients (n=433) participating in a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse were asked how many of the people they regularly spent time with over the past 4 months had jobs and how many of them encouraged the individual to look for work. Results of a path analysis showed that age, education, and chronic drug use were significantly related to the nature of peer relationships. A significant and positive association between the number of peers that worked and the number of hours worked in the following 4 months was observed. Examining the effect of peers on labor force participation by TANF recipients is necessary to assist recipients in securing and maintaining employment.
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During the 1990s, states made several reforms to their welfare programs designed to reduce teenage fertility among minors. Among the most prominent of these changes, states started requiring teenage mothers younger than 18 to live with a parent or legal guardian and enroll in high school in order to receive welfare benefits. Using natality data from the National Center for Health Statistics, we compare the trend in fertility rates for young women aged 15 to 17 to the trend for a control group of 18-year-olds. Our estimates imply that the annual percent decline in fertility rates following implementation of these minor parent provisions was 0.7 percentage points larger for young teens than for teens aged 18, a difference of over 22 percent.
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This study uses longitudinal data spanning 13 years from a study of 234 adolescent mothers to evaluate the effects of cumulative domestic violence on employment and welfare use before and after welfare reform. Domestic violence increased the odds of unemployment after welfare reform, but not before; domestic violence had no effect on welfare use during any time period. Psychological distress after welfare reform was associated with unemployment, but not with welfare outcomes. Thus, the authors found that the direct effect of domestic violence on unemployment is not mediated by concurrent level of psychological distress. The relationship of psychological distress to unemployment exists only for those with a history of domestic violence. Cumulative domestic violence can have negative effects on economic capacity many years after the violence occurs, suggesting that policymakers recognize the long-term nature of the impact of domestic violence on women's capacity to be economically self-reliant.
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