“Four years Into a period of a deep recession and persistent economic crisis, only now has the p-word?poverty?finally surfaced (Labeled, Jan/Feb. 2012, p. 11). For those of us that have; a roof over our heads, stable income, health insurance, and have an abundance of groceries in our pantry, we often never think of those in the united States that are below the poverty line and struggling to put food on the table. The battle for the single mother to make It in this tough economy Is the policy Issue I will be focusing on.
The poverty rate for single mothers and their children is only rising: room 32. 5% in 2009 to 34. 2% in 2010 (Labeled,Jan/Feb. 2012). Poverty has always been a concern, however now with the growing population and the increasing rate of single mothers, It has become a problem on the federal level as well as state and local governments. Compared to other high-income countries, the poverty rates for the United States are remarkably high (Legal Momentum, 2012).
The united States has implemented a few programs not only to help assist single mothers, but all poverty stricken individuals in the U. S. I will be discussing the positives and negatives hat have come out of some of these programs, the organizations and officials involved in the issue, in addition to alternate policies and my thoughts of the problem along with my opinion and thoughts of my ideas for a new policy. To completely understand poverty in the U. S. It is important to understand how poverty Is measured In the united States. The U.
S. Uses poverty thresholds that are issued every year by the Census Bureau. A family is considered poor if its pretax money income is below the poverty threshold (National Poverty Center, 2013). According to the U. S. Bureau of the Census in 201 0 the poverty threshold for a single arena of one child was $1 5,030 and for two children $17,568 (National Poverty center, 2013). Now the question remains, how many single mothers are below the poverty line? In 2010 about 46 million remained in or fell into poverty (Ross, September 15, 2011).
With this number only growing, the importance of gaining control over this issue Is Imminent. Some key focuses for single mothers In poverty would be; creating and finding Jobs for single mothers, assisting with providing food and possibly shelter, health care for themselves and their children, and child care for their children while they are working. The U. S. Government began implementing programs back in 1935 with the introduction of “welfare”, but at the time it was actually first called Lad to Dependent Children or FDA (Labeled, Jan/Feb. 2012).
Many other programs followed the implementation of “welfare” such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, and housing assistance. The largest milestone following the implementation of welfare created by the government was called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANK. The program started In 1996 with support of President Clinton, this program abolished the FDA. TANK was created to move parents off of welfare and onto the workforce with basic work-related skills (Hildebrandt & Stevens, May 2009). TANK is the program that has taken precedence in the U. S.
I will be spending a majority of time on the different Issues that have come as a result of this program. As I stated above, TANK was put Into effect In place of welfare and there are 4 essential differences between the two that are important to understand: entitlement, the U. S. Must meet and comply with work requirements. Sanctions are in place by the discretion of the state to comply with work requirements. The limits are referring o a 60 month limit, and fixed block grant meaning the amount of money a family receives is fixed (Network, 2012).
There seems to be always a positive followed by a negative in theories such as these. These theories are the basis of these programs, and all are put in place typically to promote a positive outcome, but sometimes that is not what is accomplished. In theory TANK was put in place to promote and support employment for the poverty stricken family. However, many single mothers are in low paying Jobs, and most of these Jobs do not offer health insurance or benefits such as paid time off which in turn creates problems.
They now make enough money to disqualify themselves from Medicaid and will also have to find child care (which can be very costly), and if their child gets sick they do not have any sick time so they will have to go a day without pay. All of these factors come into play after the theory that was supposed to be positive and help them, turned out to have negative effects. However, on the positive side Congress did expand the Earned Income Tax credit in the push for employment, which provides refundable tax credits for low-income wage earners (Labeled, Jan/Feb. 2012).
Congress also did create the Child Care Development Block Grant giving states money to help provide for childcare with working parents of low income. They also established the Children’s Health Insurance Program because of so many people losing Medicaid after obtaining employment (Labeled, Jan/Feb. 2012). Another negative emerging from the TANK is the difference I was describing above “limits on benefits” many women are terminated from the program after the federal time limit 60 months, and 19 states even have shorter time limits (Hildebrandt & Stevens, May 2009).
These women often times have been unable to work because of either health issues or other problems. Unfortunately, these women usually fall off the radar of the system. Meaning they are no longer kept track of and that TANK didn’t benefit them like it was supposed to. Another huge downfall of this program is the amount of paperwork that is involved. I went on several different websites for different states and each state has different requirements. Each state is then sectioned off into different counties which in turn also have their own weapon. This can get very overwhelming and confusing.
There is so much paperwork involved, it would be almost a full time Job trying to fill it out and keep up with it. You have to keep checking in and keep your employment updated so that they know you are still currently employed. I briefly looked at the State of Colorado TANK website and was overwhelmed of the amount of paperwork that was involved. I couldn’t imagine being a single mother, working a full time Job, trying to keep up with your child’s activities, and at the end of it all Jumping through all the hoops of maintain the necessary paperwork to keep your benefits. It sounds very overwhelming and exhausting!
States have a total of $27 billion-$28 billion in combined federal TANK and state MOE funds available to spend each year. The total amount actually expended, however, varies for several reasons. States can carry over some of their unspent federal TANK dollars to a future year. (Shoot, Apatite, & Finch, August 7, 2012, p. 5) With all of this money being given out it seems that the which brings up my point of non-profit organizations. Without non-profit organizations, several families would have to face the inevitable possibly of life on the street or go without food and/or care for their children.
Non-profit organizations are an important part of not only the U. S. But it is also becoming a global phenomenon. The definition of non-profit businesses is “a corporation or an association that conducts business for the benefit of the general public without shareholders and without a profit motive” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2013). Hunger is one of the strongest indications of poverty. There are a growing number of food pantries in several different cities and towns throughout the United States.
This seems to be the result of food stamp recipients not finding the government assistance sufficient to meet their needs; as a result these individuals are turning to food providers in the non-profit food sector for help (Painter, Berne, & Anderson, Spring 2011). This is Just one example of how non-profit organizations are helping struggling individuals in the U. S. It doesn’t stop with food pantries though; it goes on to several thousands of different non-profits in states. Briefly, I searched for non- profit organizations in Fort Collins, Colorado and it came up with a vast list.
Organization’s ranging from Crossroads Coffeehouse to Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity to the Mother’s Center of Fort Collins. The Merriam Webster Dictionary (2013) states that the definition of public administration is a “branch of political science dealing primarily with the structure ND workings of agencies charged with the administration of governmental functions. ” According to this definition it paints a clear picture of why public administration is connected to the problem of poverty, especially poverty with the single mother. The government has implemented several programs at the federal, state and local levels.
It is also clear how different non-profit agencies have also stepped in to assist those that can’t be helped by the government. Several different participants from every aspect of the government, as well as non-profit organizations are included. Also people like you and I who donate to specific non-profit organizations and our tax dollars, all play a significant role in helping those in need. Women remain to be the focus of poverty in the United States for numerous reasons. This is why our devoted attention should be brought to poverty and especially poverty with single mothers.
Women are paid less than men, even if they have the same qualifications as a male does. It also seems that women are segregated into lower paying Jobs or Jobs that are already taken over by women which are now called “pink collar” Jobs; for example waitresses, childcare, cleaning, etc. Also, many single women with children often are supporting the children homeless and are not getting child support from the father (Cowcatcher, October 8, 2008). We must also focus our attention on the factors that I have mentioned earlier, such as a majority of single mothers are working at low paying Jobs without benefits or paid time off or health insurance.
Also, the fact that cost of living has increased significantly and they aren’t getting paid accordingly. All citizens of the U. S. Who are in poverty are at stake; however women and children seem to be taking the impact the worst. Children born in poverty should have the same opportunities as any other child in the U. S. And I believe that is why we need to come together as a country to As I have explained earlier TANK is the program that is now in place in the U. S. This was implemented in 1996 as the government thought this would be better than implementing welfare.
This is because it is believed that TANK promotes employment whereas welfare does not. In addition to TANK the government also decided to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, as well as expanding the Child Care Development Block Grant, and also established the Children’s Health Insurance Program (Labeled, Jan/Feb. 2012). In order to clearly see the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of these newly implemented programs the SOOT analysis is the most effective. The SOOT analysis is a technique that is used to test strategic viability (Shaft, Russell, & Brick, 2011).
An important strength that TANK possesses is that it holds its members accountable. As the Former Governor of Wisconsin, Scott McCollum stated “Personal responsibility leads to greater prosperity, innovation and growth. ” (Spotlight on poverty and opportunity, February 10, 2010). It is important for everyone to be accountable for themselves, and by working towards a goal most people feel a sense of personal responsibility which leads to growth. An additional strength found in this new employment-promotion (TANK) is that welfare rolls have decreased significantly. “In 1996, the last full year under the old system, there were 4. 3 million families on AFC (welfare) nationwide; in 2010, amid the worst labor market in decades, the TANK caseload was only 1. 86 million. ” (Labeled, Jan/Feb. 2012. P. 6). Even though there are some strengths, there seems to be a lot more weaknesses regarding TANK. While TANK was theoretically created to help take people out of poverty, especially n assisting women in becoming inspired to find employment, most women are only working at Jobs that are paying minimum wage. A considerable weakness is that TANK does not focus on an education for women to help them better themselves.
Mixing poor mothers already with poorly paying Jobs does not make for any success. These Jobs often do not have benefits, paid time off, vacation days, and often they are not flexible and have irregular work hours, making child care hard. Also without vacation days or paid sick days if a mother’s child gets sick they are forced to take a ay off without pay and babysitters aren’t always an option because they are expensive. (Labeled, Jan/Feb. 2012). An additional weakness is the process in applying for TANK; it is an enormous task that takes a lot of time, and if you are a single mother working you often don’t have extra time.
An added weakness that TANK generates is child care. Now that the single mother becomes employed she now needs childcare and often cannot afford the high prices of childcare. The child care assistance came into play after TANK, but often single mothers whom are now employed make too much money to have assistance for childcare provided to them. One last weakness I will bring attention to is the recent recession that the U. S. Has endured. The recession that we are still digging ourselves out of was one of the largest recessions that hit the U. S. Economy since the Great Depression.
With the great impact that the recession created TANK has not gone under any modifications. ” Under the TANK structure, many states’ TANK programs have responded inadequately ? or not at all ? to the large rise in unemployment during this very deep recession, leaving large numbers of families in severe hardship”(Apatite & Shoot, July 14, 2011, tit so many individuals relying on government assistance programs they should be revised to fit the current economic structure. TANK creates opportunities for single women to work and make them feel worthy and have a feeling of self-responsibility that often women lack when they are unemployed.
Also, with the extent of poverty stricken single mothers in the U. S. It gives several non-profit organizations the opportunity to help single mothers thrive. However, when bringing in non-profit organizations to help assist there is a threat to the public sector. Often times when poverty stricken single mothers have already seed their 60 month allotment or other women have fallen through the cracks, these women rely on non-profit organizations to help them. Several large non-profit organizations have won contracts to offer case management, employment services, and support services (Winston, Berwick, McConnell, & Roper, May 2002).
Though non- profits are becoming common in the area of poverty, there are several worries of the public sector regarding the prevarication by these organizations. The majority of concern about prevarication is how this will affect the economy. An added concern of he government regarding prevarication by non-profits is these providers now don’t have to answer to an elected public officials and government officials will have less direct control over services that are paid for by the public (Winston, Berwick, McConnell, & Roper, May 2002).
One last threat that will negatively affect the poverty stricken, especially single mothers is the recession. Each state is given a different allotment of funding for TANK and with the current financial crisis the allotments have not seen much change if any at all. Under TANK, the federal government gives states a fixed block grant totaling $16. Billion each year and requires them to maintain a certain level of state spending (totaling $10 billion-II billion a year), based on a state’s level of spending for FDA and related programs prior to its conversion to TANK in 1996. Shoot, Apatite, & Finch, August 7, 2012, Para. 3). Depending on the state in which you reside depends on how TANK works. Every state is given an individual amount and the rules and regulations vary from state to state. Every state has an extensive list of qualifiers and ad’s-qualifiers, different set of rules, and other governing properties that are specific to each state. Most states allow an individual o be enrolled in the program for 60 months, some states offer much shorter terms while a few offer longer terms.
The threat of the recession will greatly impact the amount of money that individuals can receive, if the state decides it no longer can afford the program then funds could be drastically cut. This program has not been implemented since 1996; if you think of how many things have changed in 17 years I most definitely think this program could use a thorough review. Subsequently because of the recession Americans find themselves in greater need of assistance and states have started cutting their welfare, they have also scaled back spending on child support enforcement and collections activity (Ross, September 15, 2011).
The federal as well as state governments need to realize that if they want TANK to be successful and for poverty stricken individuals to work then wages and employer benefits must support workers at basis minimum levels (Labeled, Jan/Feb. 2012). The middle class working female barely has time to go to work and be a mother. How is it possible for the single mother who is already then on top of all these responsibilities try to find time to fill out the vast amount of paperwork that it takes to enroll.
Also many low paying minimum wage Jobs don’t have health insurance, now the single mother is working and is not getting health benefits for herself or for her child, but now she makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid; therefore she goes without health insurance. I think more emphasis needs to be made about education. These single mothers are forced to work at minimum wage Jobs to receive minimal assistance to barely get by and without an education they are going to be most likely stuck in these minimum wage Jobs for the rest of their lives.
With attention being placed on education we could put more emphasis on single mothers to get an education to better themselves and the lives of their children. By stressing education the government’s idea of TANK which is getting the poverty stricken individual off of government assistance all together would be more likely to succeed. With an education these individuals could get a higher paying Job, not Just a minimum wage Job. “Most single mothers cannot work their way out of poverty?definitely not without the right kinds of supplemental support” (Labeled, Jan/Feb. 2012).
This quote says a great deal, making single mothers or anyone that is poverty stricken go get a minimum wage Job without benefits isn’t benefiting these individuals at all. The whole point of ending welfare and “promoting employment” and trying to get as many people working and off of assistance as possible is not working. According to the plan most single mothers use their 60 month allotment of TANK and end up back in the same boat as they were before. In order for things to change this system needs to be examined and revised, the government can’t expect something that was put in place in 1996 to still be effective n 2013.
The recession has hit people hard and has left several people unemployed as well as less money for government assistance. The cost of living has dramatically increased since 1996 especially if you look at things like the price of gas or the price of beef or milk. Eventually, there needs to be a better designed plan to assist the poor and low-income families, cash assistance, and minimal employment standards should be part of the equation (Labeled, Jan/Feb. 2012). While this program has produced some positivist there are several things that should be renovated to better fit our changing society.
It is the position of the public administrator to make life for the general public as stress free and manageable as possible. The unemployment rate has declined in the last year which is good news, however with impending government anxieties such as the debate over the budget and the impending fiscal cliff leaves many wondering if this will make for a weakening in employment (Schwartz, December 7, 2012). Though employment has gone up slightly, we have to take into consideration the price of things such as gas which was on the average in 1996 about $1. 7 a gallon to 2013 where gas is averaging about $3. 4 per gallon and expected to rise to almost $4 per gallon this summer (Gasbag’s, 2013). With the price of our everyday commodities reaching such high prices we must take into account minimum wage, which most of these single mothers that are using the TANK program make went from $4. 75 in 1996 to only $7. 25 in 2013. If you think about a single mother with a couple of kids trying to make it on minimum wage with the prices of everyday living supplies at such must be taken into account and changes should not be an option but a must.
As our country is struggling to dig out of our financial hole that we have got ourselves into, it is important to remember those who still need assistance. The amount of money the government has to give out is limited; however I think that we should provide enough money to help those out who need it. TANK needs to be restructured, starting by going state by state and verifying the number of people that are actually enrolled in the program and also the amount of people who are below the poverty line. Many states have different rules regarding the way TANK works, however I feel the same rules should be applicable for every state.
I believe each individual should still be given the full five years of TANK assistance. After they have received the five years and they are still unable to get on their feet after having worked we should still keep them enrolled in the system and do bi-annual check- ins to see if the assistance of TANK is still needed. The amount of money a state gets should depend on the unemployment rate as well as the amount of people below the poverty line that need assistance. As a public administrator it is imperative to do annual checks of each state to see the amount of funding they receive is sufficient and being spent as intended.
I would also appoint a member to be in charge of the program in each state, as well as several employees under these appointed members to make sure all states are receiving the same attention and assistance. The enrollment process in order to be considered a candidate for TANK is very difficult; in fact it appears to be more difficult than filling out a OAFS form or a college application. Each state has different paperwork that needs to be filled out. I feel that there should be a standard set of paperwork and it should not be so difficult and time consuming.
The enrollment form is very confusing and time consuming ND these forms have to be updated throughout the year and they tend to take up a lot of time, it would be my main objective to make this paperwork easier and more understanding to fill out. A large amount of the applicants are single mothers trying to work full time and then with the added stress of trying to figure out when and where they are going to fill out this massive amount of paperwork can be daunting. It would be a main focus for me to modify the paperwork process and make it easier and more stress-free for the already stressed out individuals seeking assistance.
Education plays an enormous role in society today, and it seems that TANK has overlooked this. Today to get a decent Job with decent pay an associates degree is necessary; however a bachelor’s degree is preferred. TANK focuses so much on getting these individuals (especially single mothers) to work and trying to be self- sufficient, but they put no emphasis at all on education. It is important that our future leaders have parents who are educated and who are able to provide as much as possible for them. This will in turn benefit them in their education and future.
If ingle mothers are left to work menial minimum wage Jobs the rest of their lives they are never going to get anywhere. It would be part of my new plan to focus more on education then getting back to work. Currently TANK focuses on individuals finding a job in order to get assistance, most of these individuals do not have a college degree or a high school diploma; however I would provide assistance for school and promote education in place of full time employment. Ways. First; by restructuring the rules and doing away completely with the 60 month timeline and instead do bi-annual check-ins with families to see if they still need assistance.
By doing away with five year timeline, individuals would not have to feel pressured. Most importantly, after their 60 months are up they wouldn’t be denied Medicaid because they would still be working and they would still be under the health care coverage provided by TANK. By looking at the increased prices of commodities as well as the cost of living increase, I would reorganize the amount of money that each state is set to get annually based on the percent of people below the poverty line and take into account the downfall of the economy.
By doing this it would benefit especially the single mother who is barely making enough money at heir minimum wage Job that most likely has no benefits, and they would be ensured a set amount of money to rely on for assistance. Currently; depending on the state the individual lives in, the amount available and the length of time which you can receive TANK will vary from state to state. It would be my goal to have each state have the same or similar guidelines so the individuals who rely on this assistance can be helped as best as possible.
Secondly; revamping the enrollment process to make it more user friendly and not so time consuming will allow the single parents (especially single mothers) to have more free time with their children. If a single mother is already working over 40 hours a week she is barely able to spend any time with her children and by making the system more user friendly will allow for more family time which increases stability in children. Currently each state has a different enrollment process and although it is easily accessible online the details that have to go into the filling out the application is similar to having a second Job.
On top of the enrollment process, the individual has to then keep up with paperwork throughout the entire time they are enrolled in TANK. By making the enrollment process easier and by adding more Taft to deal with each state’s TANK program, they will be able to have more one on one assistance with each individual and will be able to keep up with their income requirements bi-annually rather than the individual doing loads of paperwork on their own. Third; focusing more on education and getting individuals education.
Individuals without a high school diploma their GEED, those with a diploma getting an opportunity to get an associates or bachelor’s degree. By giving a little more monetary assistance and allowing those in need to better themselves with an education will in the long run will help them to become self-sufficient. Currently the TANK program was implemented to help those without Jobs to get a Job while receiving government assistance to become self-sufficient, however the only problem is that by pushing individuals into minimum wage Jobs is not helping them become self-sufficient.
They are now spending all of their time working for nothing, when they could be gaining an education so that they could make a better salary, which in turn would dramatically increase their chances for being self-sufficient. I would generate classes specially for those enrolled in TANK to receive their GEED, and I would also create assistance programs focused solely on promoting education while enrolled in the TANK program. Together to try to make a change. Money is spread thin in every aspect of the public sector and although my policy changes would mean more money would be needed, in the end it would be well worth the sacrifice.
There would be more money spent in hiring more staff to focus on TANK. The changes that would need executed would also need to be additional money for creating separate GEED classes and to generate more grants to push those in the TANK program to further their education with college classes. By educating these individuals they would be able to secure higher paying Jobs with benefits and paid time off and this would alleviate the need to keep people on TANK for so long. By advocating education, we would see more people leave TANK earlier with no need to go back on the program.
This in turn would lead to less people on Medicaid as well. This in the long run would lessen the amount of money that we would have to spend on these sorts of programs because we would be sending individuals out in the working world with an education. As an end result we would be solving a major problem that plagues our society rather than Just memorably fixing a problem that we would have to deal with again and again. Solving issues and bettering individual’s lives instead of enabling a mediocre existence seems like a much better solution to me!