This down-to-earth look at the welfare system provides readers with stories from welfare recipients themselves and from those who recently left welfare for work: how they got onto welfare, what the reality of welfare (and welfare reform) is for them, issues in raising their families, their plans, hopes, and dreams are for the future, and some of the struggles they face as they try to leave the welfare system.
Welfare recipients who were interviewed by the author in Florida and Oregon share their perspectives on work requirements, family caps, time limits, and other features of the new welfare reform (TANF) program. They discuss the importance of a livable wage and health insurance in providing the needed security to leave welfare for good. These qualitative interviews are theoretically grounded, and supplemented with up-to-date statewide and national data on welfare reform and its consequences.
The author says, “Underneath the political rhetoric and welfare statistics are real live human beings who are trying to make sense out of their lives.” Their voices provide a crucial counterpoint to the politicians and policy “experts” who have shaped the policy reform initiative. They show us that the so-called welfare problem is related to the insecurity of low-tier work in the United States.