Social Welfare Policy: Then and Now

Social Welfare Policy: Then and Now

The methods of helping the poor have significantly changed in contemporary social welfare. Social welfare has helped to keep millions of individuals and families from starving. Over the past few years, the “war on poverty” has been very effective. Social Welfare which includes several programs and methods to assist poor people through cash and subsidized food, housing, and medical services, has served to alleviate poverty, in both improving the quality of life of those who endure it and raising their overall income (Joseph, 2019). Demonstrably, targeted and consistent application of social welfare has tangibly improved lives by satisfying the basic needs of the weakest and least independent members of society, such as children, the aged, the infirm, and people with disabilities. In addition, some of its beneficiaries have been helped to permanently escape poverty and achieve some social mobility. According to many studies, the key factor in academic achievement is an increase in family income, no matter its source. Education is the key to rising out of poverty.

The methods of social welfare have significantly changed and have helped people rise out of poverty by increasing income and thus the academic success of the children. Many people on welfare are the working poor. For instance, SNAP helps people get back on their feet and allows those who make lows wages (25% of workers make less than $10.10 an hour and thus usually qualify for government assistance) to survive (Hadley & Hatch, 2018). There is also Temporary Aid to Needy Families, which is a social welfare-to-work program. TANF, which replaced the old welfare system, today has just over 1 million households.” Over the past twenty years, the average monthly caseload of TANF has significantly fallen. Even as deep poverty and poverty have worsened, the caseloads have fallen from 4.4 million families to 1.36 families from 1996 to 2016.  Many states may face penalties if more than 50% of TANF families do not engage in work-related activities. TANF benefits range from $300–430 a month, depending on the state. This has been a significant change in contemporary social welfare.

On the other hand, the methods of helping the poor have remained the same in contemporary social welfare. Depending on the state social welfare is designed to meet the minimum basics and needs for a person to survive. The poverty rate in the US has remained about 12 to 15% since before social welfare started in 1964 (Joseph, 2019). After more than 15 trillion dollars spent to combat poverty, nothing has changed except an entire segment of the population now depends on the government. In some cases, the methods used by social welfare caused families to divorce to qualify for benefits and forced them to spend more time in offices instead of being accessible for job callbacks or interviews. In other cases, social welfare methods did what it was supposed to.  They were a long-term solution for folks in long-term poverty situations and bridges over deep poverty situations for temporary situations.

For some states in North America, the social welfare systems are so antagonistic that they spend more time doing asset tests and weeding out methods that they fail to help people get out of poverty. The contract services for drug testing and background checks are done by for-profit businesses and it does not help the person out of poverty and can worsen a person’s needs just to start the process (Hadley & Hatch, 2018). States are directing less and fewer funds to help people in temporary poverty situations that their poverty becomes long term and deeper. This would be different if social workers were allowed to help their clients back on their feet with life coaching, mental health, medical help, housing, and education or training services. With the new mantra of “able-bodied spiels” and no actual background in social services, many SafetyNet services have been destroyed. Now people that become impoverished face deeper and worse poverty caused by incomplete or incompetent social welfare systems methods that are more like barriers instead of a helping hand through hard times.























Hadley, R., & Hatch, S. (2018). Social welfare and the failure of the state: Centralised social services and participatory alternatives (Vol. 6). New York: Routledge.

Joseph, R. (2019). Poverty, welfare, and self-sufficiency: Implications for the social work profession. Journal of poverty23(6), 505-520.

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