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Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform

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Hailed as a great success, welfare reform resulted in a dramatic decline in the welfare rolls--from 4.4 million families in 1996 to 2 million in 2003. But what does this "success" look like to the welfare mothers and welfare caseworkers who experienced it? In Flat Broke With Children, Sharon Hays tells us the story of welfare reform from inside the welfare office and insid Hailed as a great success, welfare reform resulted in a dramatic decline in the welfare rolls--from 4.4 million families in 1996 to 2 million in 2003. But what does this "success" look like to the welfare mothers and welfare caseworkers who experienced it? In Flat Broke With Children, Sharon Hays tells us the story of welfare reform from inside the welfare office and inside the lives of welfare mothers, describing the challenges that welfare recipients face in managing their work, their families, and the rules and regulations of welfare reform. Welfare reform, experienced on the ground, is not a rosy picture. The majority of adult welfare clients are mothers--over 90 percent--and the time limits imposed by welfare reform throw millions of these mostly unmarried, desperate women into the labor market, where they must accept low wages, the most menial work, the poorest hours, with no benefits, and little flexibility. Hays provides a vivid portrait of their lives--debunking many of the stereotypes we have of welfare recipients--but she also steps back to explore what welfare reform reveals about the meaning of work and family life in our society. In particular, she argues that an inherent contradiction lies at the heart of welfare policy, which emphasizes traditional family values even as its ethic of "personal responsibility" requires women to work and leave their children in childcare or at home alone all day long. Hays devoted three years to visiting welfare clients and two welfare offices, one in a medium-sized town in the Southeast, another in a large, metropolitan area in the West. Drawing on this hands-on research, Flat Broke With Children is the first book to explore the impact of welfare reform on motherhood, marriage, and work in women's lives, and the first book to offer us a portrait of how welfare reform plays out in thousands of local welfare offices and in millions of homes across the nation.


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Hailed as a great success, welfare reform resulted in a dramatic decline in the welfare rolls--from 4.4 million families in 1996 to 2 million in 2003. But what does this "success" look like to the welfare mothers and welfare caseworkers who experienced it? In Flat Broke With Children, Sharon Hays tells us the story of welfare reform from inside the welfare office and insid Hailed as a great success, welfare reform resulted in a dramatic decline in the welfare rolls--from 4.4 million families in 1996 to 2 million in 2003. But what does this "success" look like to the welfare mothers and welfare caseworkers who experienced it? In Flat Broke With Children, Sharon Hays tells us the story of welfare reform from inside the welfare office and inside the lives of welfare mothers, describing the challenges that welfare recipients face in managing their work, their families, and the rules and regulations of welfare reform. Welfare reform, experienced on the ground, is not a rosy picture. The majority of adult welfare clients are mothers--over 90 percent--and the time limits imposed by welfare reform throw millions of these mostly unmarried, desperate women into the labor market, where they must accept low wages, the most menial work, the poorest hours, with no benefits, and little flexibility. Hays provides a vivid portrait of their lives--debunking many of the stereotypes we have of welfare recipients--but she also steps back to explore what welfare reform reveals about the meaning of work and family life in our society. In particular, she argues that an inherent contradiction lies at the heart of welfare policy, which emphasizes traditional family values even as its ethic of "personal responsibility" requires women to work and leave their children in childcare or at home alone all day long. Hays devoted three years to visiting welfare clients and two welfare offices, one in a medium-sized town in the Southeast, another in a large, metropolitan area in the West. Drawing on this hands-on research, Flat Broke With Children is the first book to explore the impact of welfare reform on motherhood, marriage, and work in women's lives, and the first book to offer us a portrait of how welfare reform plays out in thousands of local welfare offices and in millions of homes across the nation.

30 review for Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lara Torgesen

    Sharon Hays’ book Flat Broke with Children provides a revealing picture of what is happening to the poorest people in the U.S. in the wake of the 1996 welfare reform. By all outward signs, welfare reform seems to address the perceived problems of welfare: it has time limits and work requirements; it helps with job training and childcare expenses; it promotes “traditional work ethics” as well as “traditional family values.” And it seems to be quite successful according to the numbers. Families on Sharon Hays’ book Flat Broke with Children provides a revealing picture of what is happening to the poorest people in the U.S. in the wake of the 1996 welfare reform. By all outward signs, welfare reform seems to address the perceived problems of welfare: it has time limits and work requirements; it helps with job training and childcare expenses; it promotes “traditional work ethics” as well as “traditional family values.” And it seems to be quite successful according to the numbers. Families on welfare decreased from 4.4 million in 1996 to 2.1 million in 2001. From outward appearances, it might seem that welfare reform has been a resounding success. However, Hays spent three years examining welfare reform from the trenches and paints a human face behind the numbers on the welfare rolls and stereotypes. Since the majority of welfare recipients are mothers (90 percent), it means that the faces of poverty and despair in the U.S. are those of women and children. There are many contradictions and conflicting values behind welfare reform. There’s the “Work Plan,” which tells women that they are required to be independent and self-sufficient and to participate in the paid labor force as one of the paths leading away from welfare. This plan follows the logic of classical liberal individualism. Then there’s the “Family Plan,” which implicitly tells women that marriage is another proper path leading away from welfare. At the heart of this plan is the idea that children are our highest priority and that they deserve to be raised in a two-parent, married household. These two plans reflect our nation’s (sometimes competing and conflicting) values. One of the reasons that welfare reform has been widely affirmed among the general population is that its competing messages are able to satisfy two distinct constituencies. However, in practice we see that these two plans can be counterproductive to each other. The welfare offices are focused on the Work Plan: the clock is ticking so women need to hurry up and find any low-paid, menial, miserable job they can to get off welfare. Daycare expenses are high, even higher with multiple children, so often we see that the government is paying more to keep a woman’s children in daycare than the woman is making at her minimum-wage job. We are paying mothers to go out and leave their children in daycare all day. So much for family values! The Family Plan doesn’t seem to be much better. Many of the men who had been in and out of these women’s lives and fathered their children were also abusive and/or uninvolved. It seems futile to try to regulate at such a level. If I had the chance to “reform” welfare reform, I would first do away with paying lip service to nuclear families and marriages. I don’t believe this area can be well regulated by the government—nor should it be. The definitions of marriage and family have changed and will continue to change. I would also concentrate less on getting numbers “off” the welfare rolls and concentrate more on lifting more people above the poverty line. I do believe that autonomy and self-sufficiency are important values—on a level equal with the values of justice and care. I would do away with the time limits and instead have the people on welfare (with the help of a case worker) come up with their own personal “Five-Year Plan.” This plan would examine where the individual is now and where she/he wants to be in five years. Then the plan would spell out what is needed from government assistance for the individual to accomplish that goal—adequate food, shelter, healthcare, training assistance, daycare assistance, etc. Sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan, and so the plan might have to be periodically adjusted or extended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Marcia Nedland

    Again, I love sociology. This was a great read on the real humans involved in welfare reform. In my view, it's a devastating account of how policy makers and conservative America have no clue and no empathy and really, do not know what they're talking about when they criticize welfare recipients. I highly recommend this. Again, I love sociology. This was a great read on the real humans involved in welfare reform. In my view, it's a devastating account of how policy makers and conservative America have no clue and no empathy and really, do not know what they're talking about when they criticize welfare recipients. I highly recommend this.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Damona

    For a 15 year old book, this is still surprisingly relevant. Some of the laws have changed, making restrictions even tighter and making it even harder for poor women and children to get by, but a lot of the sociological information is still good and important.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Abi Olvera

    One of the most important books to read about the controversial welfare policies in the US. This books illuminates about the realities of the mothers lives, in all of their diversity. The clashes are highlighted between social caseworkers and the lawmakers who encourage marriage risking dependency and abusive relations. A class of forced labor is what comes out of the work portion of the plan, forcing mothers to be tied to the first job that comes along, not even being able to quit an environmen One of the most important books to read about the controversial welfare policies in the US. This books illuminates about the realities of the mothers lives, in all of their diversity. The clashes are highlighted between social caseworkers and the lawmakers who encourage marriage risking dependency and abusive relations. A class of forced labor is what comes out of the work portion of the plan, forcing mothers to be tied to the first job that comes along, not even being able to quit an environment of sexual harassment. Seeing the effects of the policy shows just how repressive and ineffective this law has been.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Book was written pretty well. Occasionally I have to challenge myself by reading the other side of what I believe in.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    This book is a bit dated and I was little hesitant about that when I picked it up, but it turned out to be a great read! Hays examines the Personal Responsibility Act of 1996 (aka welfare reform) in great detail in this book published in 2003. I (sadly) have the feeling that this book is actually quite relevant and timely given the incoming administration... Hays hit many of favorites with this book - social issues, women/children, more than data than I could have hoped for, and personal stories This book is a bit dated and I was little hesitant about that when I picked it up, but it turned out to be a great read! Hays examines the Personal Responsibility Act of 1996 (aka welfare reform) in great detail in this book published in 2003. I (sadly) have the feeling that this book is actually quite relevant and timely given the incoming administration... Hays hit many of favorites with this book - social issues, women/children, more than data than I could have hoped for, and personal stories of those affected by the issue at hand. I started sticking little post it notes as I read beside facts and figures I wanted to remember but quickly ran out of post its and space before deciding to just read. From the beginning welfare has firmly been connected to American's value surrounding family life. It began in the early 20th century via state laws providing Mother's Pensions specifically aimed at protecting widows so they could continue to care for their children at home. These laws were expanded and made more inclusive when New Deal legislation instituted the program of Aid to Dependent Children in 1935. This federal law stemmed directly from the American family ideal of a breadwinning husband and a domestic wife. If the husband was absent, the state would step in to take his place to financially support the women and children. In practice, many women deemed not virtuous enough were denied aid, but by the late 1960s, increasingly poor single mothers were using welfare for precisely the purpose for which it was originally intended - they were staying at home to care for their young children. Times changed, as they inevitably do, and the welfare rolls continued to grow alongside the rise in single parenting. Social concern turned away from helping the needy and the tide began to turn. In 1996, welfare was renamed as TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) legislation and the Personal Responsibility Act (PRA) established the absolute demand that mothers participate in the labor force, offering no exceptions. All welfare mothers are now required to work, including those with infants; from the moment they enter the welfare office, they must be looking for a job, training for a job, or holding a job. The biggest change was that time limits were enacted - you have 5 years to collect benefits and then you're expected to self-sufficient. You can come and go off welfare, but after you've received 5 years of benefits, that's all you get for the rest of your life. And plus also, after 2 years of benefits there's a 2 year period where you can't receive benefits. Sanctions were also put into place and if you were sanctioned too many times, you were kicked off. You could be sanctioned for things like not showing up to unpaid job training. Having to miss an unpaid workfare placement because you couldn't find childcare (not everyone got childcare subsidies; many can't afford childcare while working an unpaid placement - unpaid placements were used as a way to learn job skills). There was a provision that allowed temporary subsidies for paid childcare, but this law ended any special protection for women and children by the government. I found this interesting, as I think most would agree that children at least deserve some form of protection. But by tying their well-being to that of a poor parent, most often a woman, doesn't sit well with me. This is a vulnerable population: 60% of welfare mothers have experienced domestic violence. It's estimated that 4 to 56% of welfare recipients suffer from some form of mental illness. 47% don't have a high school diploma. Interestingly, many of the politicians who signed the PRA into effect continued to busily espouse family values, which have historically included women staying at home to raise children. The PRA has 4 stated goals. Weirdly, only one was directed at paid work. Two are directed at marriage. That is, paid work OR marriage are the viable paths off welfare. Put another way, removing the safety net and forcing welfare mothers to work is a way to reinforce all women's proper commitment to marriage and family. And one more time, for the cheap seats: work requirements are a way to punish mothers for their failure* to get married and stay married. By 2002, the Bush White House was developing initial proposals to further promote marriage to welfare recipients tied to monetary bonuses. The PRA also introduced a family cap that bars from welfare receipt all children born to mothers who are already on welfare. This is arguably unconstitutional in that in systematically operates to penalize women for exercising their right to reproductive choice. And it's just gross and very big brother-ish and had most importantly, had no demonstrable impact on the rate of out-of-wedlock birth rates. * This brings up a whole host of other social issues. As mentioned above, 60% of welfare mothers have experienced domestic violence. Should these women be forced to stay in abusive and dangerous relationships? I understand the desire to make people "earn" their welfare benefits which are an entitlement program. But, I would wager that you reading this right now currently benefit from entitlement programs as well such as the mortgage interest deduction which provides 5 million households in the US making >$200k/year more housing aid than the 20 million households living on <$20k/year. Retirement plans that the poor - even the WORKING poor - oftentimes don't have access to either because their employer doesn't offer it or whose budgets are so tight that retirement savings is a luxury. Perhaps you feel these don't apply to you for whatever reason. That's fine - people making more than you are taking advantage of entitlement programs, too. See: yacht tax deduction. Second home mortgage interest deduction. Gambling loss deductions. The estate tax where you can transfer assets of up to $5.4 million tax free. And my favorite, the capital gains tax rate, which maxes out at 24% as compared to the top tax rate of 39.6% (aka why Warren Buffett famously has a lower effective tax rate than his secretary). And before you say that some of these deductions are the government letting you keep your own money, in the eyes of the Congressional Budget Office, these are equivalent to the government offering you money aka an entitlement program. The PRA's key failure is that it seems to forget that the target group for welfare is mothers with children. Children are challenging. Most welfare mothers are working in low-skill, low-paying jobs that are not particularly known for their flexibility. Your kid gets sick - what do you do? Stay home from work to care for them? You don't get paid if you don't work. You could get fired. Leave them home alone? No mother wants to do this when her child is sick. CPS could be called if your kid is particularly young. You could lose your kids. Childcare is expensive. Finding safe, affordable childcare that is close to your home and workplace when you make very little money is a monumental task. Menial jobs such as fast food often have changing schedules that don't jive with the hours of childcare centers. The costs involved with forcing welfare mothers to work that the PRA provided includes: childcare subsidies, transportation subsidies, and welfare benefits. However, the costs of subsidizing childcare for the poor far outstrips the state and federal costs of paying a welfare mother to raise her own children. It is cheaper - by far - to give a mother a monthly welfare check than it is to subsidize her childcare at market rates. In the two cities that Hays studied, welfare benefits were $354 and $410 a month for a family of 4. Childcare costs on average are $904/month for 2 kids and $1,356 for 3. Even including the supplementary benefits of food stamps, placing welfare children in subsidized care of 40 hours per week is far more expensive than (inadequately) supporting their mothers to care for them at home. The good news for taxpayers and the bad news for poor single mothers and their children is that the majority of welfare clients never actually receive childcare subsidies. Nationwide, about 1/3 of eligible families receive the subsidies due to long waiting lists for these spots. There was a heartbreaking story of a mom who put her daughter in childcare with the help of her local welfare office. Her daughter was subsequently abused by the daycare provider's husband. When the mother realized this, she immediately pulled her daughter from the facility but was understandably terrified to take her elsewhere. She was forced to do so and go back to work to avoid losing her benefits. This is great and should help these folks get on their feet to where they can support their families, right? The PRA was initially heralded by many as a huge success - the welfare rolls declined from 4.4 million families to 2.1 million from 1996 to 2001. However, many of these women turned to alternate sources of income - relying on relatives, doing hair or nails under the table, selling drugs, or prostitution. Not exactly what I would call a success. Additionally, the drop in the rolls represent women who were sanctioned off of welfare, dropped out as they were unable to comply with all the requirements, or who met the 2 or 5 year limit but still live in poverty as well as those who did move on to support themselves successfully. There's so much more in this book that I didn't even touch on. A heartbreaking read that gives tons of information but also asks many questions of the system that creates such a need to begin with. Some of the things I flagged early on in this book: - At the inception of welfare reform, 1 in 8 kids in the US was supported by a welfare check. Families that qualify for welfare are desperately poor. In 2002, a mother with TWO kids had to make less than $7,510 a YEAR to qualify. Many prospective clients make much less than that, though. - Over 90% of welfare clients are women. Most of these are single moms - only 7% are two-parent households. Black and Hispanic clients are over-represented, largely because they are more likely to be poor. 38% of recipients are black, 24.5% Hispanic, and 30% white. But children outnumber adults on the welfare rolls by a ratio of more than 2 to 1. -It's a myth that welfare mothers don't have a work ethic. Half of all mothers entering the welfare office in the early 1990s came off the rolls in 2 years. At least 1/3 worked on the books while they were on welfare. 83% had some work experience, 65% had been recently employed, and 2/3 would leave welfare with jobs. But about 40% would be repeat welfare customers. - The PRA requires that fathers will be pursued for child support. The mother will receive a max of $50/month with the remainder going to the state to cover the costs of welfare. Some women are scared of this mandate, as their former partners are abusive and fear this will set them off. 10-20% of these fathers are already in jail and many already owe more than they could ever hope to pay (the average child support in arrears is $2k while the average total earnings of these men over the prior 9 months was only $2,800).

  7. 5 out of 5

    William Schram

    When I was growing up, I was in the lower-middle class. I never went hungry, so I wasn't exactly poor. Although I had toys and things, it was never enough for me. I don't remember hearing about welfare when I was a child, and my mom never spoke of politics to me. Flat Broke With Children is a book about Welfare Reform and how it affects the neediest among us. We all have ideas about what sort of person receives welfare. Sharon Hays is here to tell us that we are very wrong. Most welfare recipient When I was growing up, I was in the lower-middle class. I never went hungry, so I wasn't exactly poor. Although I had toys and things, it was never enough for me. I don't remember hearing about welfare when I was a child, and my mom never spoke of politics to me. Flat Broke With Children is a book about Welfare Reform and how it affects the neediest among us. We all have ideas about what sort of person receives welfare. Sharon Hays is here to tell us that we are very wrong. Most welfare recipients are women with children. They are not necessarily lazy. Since they published the book in 2003, it might be slightly out of date. I don't receive welfare, and I don't keep up with the laws about it. This book is a stark contrast to the other book I read called Without A Net. Although it is more scholarly in nature, I feel that it respects the subject well enough.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    I read this as part of a grad school project studying single mothers receiving public assistance. I really appreciated the way Hays dissected the welfare reform act of 1996 and demonstrated, through sociological research and personal interviews with recipients, the '96 reform's many flaws and hypocrisies. I was literally stunned to learn how dire so many families' situations are, how hard it is to get out of poverty, and how little help they really get. Once upon a time I used to think most impo I read this as part of a grad school project studying single mothers receiving public assistance. I really appreciated the way Hays dissected the welfare reform act of 1996 and demonstrated, through sociological research and personal interviews with recipients, the '96 reform's many flaws and hypocrisies. I was literally stunned to learn how dire so many families' situations are, how hard it is to get out of poverty, and how little help they really get. Once upon a time I used to think most impoverished people didn't work hard or make good choices. Now I only have to think about the financial ramifications of my staying home to raise my kids to realize that if my husband suddenly died, I could barely afford an existence on what I could earn. Luckily I have family who could and would help me, but many women don't. Really interesting read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Sharon Hays follows the first few years of welfare reform that occurred in 1996. Her interviews and experiences give a personal face to the pervasive problems that women in poverty face. In looking at poverty, the women who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is definitely one way to see how state policies work/don't work; however, this is only one part of the equation. There are many more who never receive funding, or for whom time on the rolls has run out. Hays does mention Sharon Hays follows the first few years of welfare reform that occurred in 1996. Her interviews and experiences give a personal face to the pervasive problems that women in poverty face. In looking at poverty, the women who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is definitely one way to see how state policies work/don't work; however, this is only one part of the equation. There are many more who never receive funding, or for whom time on the rolls has run out. Hays does mention that she has no idea what has happened to those who cease to receive TANF. A complex issue needs, in my opinion, a wider look at the social and economic forces that are really at play for the over 45 million people that are living in poverty. The welfare rolls have shrunk dramatically, but poverty has not.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    While the book was written with data just about 15 to 20 years old, I still found it to be informative and illuminating. I very much doubt the realities faced by poor women have gotten any better due to the economic downturn experienced in 2008 and our unfriendly and unproductive political arena concerning the many issues these mothers face. Hays is a bit sentimental but she is upfront on her argument and does not attempt to mislead the reader into thinking she was able to remain completely unbi While the book was written with data just about 15 to 20 years old, I still found it to be informative and illuminating. I very much doubt the realities faced by poor women have gotten any better due to the economic downturn experienced in 2008 and our unfriendly and unproductive political arena concerning the many issues these mothers face. Hays is a bit sentimental but she is upfront on her argument and does not attempt to mislead the reader into thinking she was able to remain completely unbiased in her interpretation of the data she discovered. Worth a read even though it is dated.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    This book was really an interesting study of how the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (aka Welfare Reform 1996) affected two unnamed municipalities. Hays shows us how this particular "road to hell can, in fact, be paved with good intentions (or at least a mix of good intentions, harsh realities, and incomplete moral reasoning)." Definitely worth a read if you are interested in the topic. This book was really an interesting study of how the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (aka Welfare Reform 1996) affected two unnamed municipalities. Hays shows us how this particular "road to hell can, in fact, be paved with good intentions (or at least a mix of good intentions, harsh realities, and incomplete moral reasoning)." Definitely worth a read if you are interested in the topic.

  12. 4 out of 5

    BadReetReviews

    I will admit that in the years of welfare reform, I was among those who applauded it. I personally knew people who were lifetime welfare recipients (or so it seemed to me), but reading this book made me feel ashamed of my across-the-board lumping of all welfare recipients into this category. I was wrong. This book is an eye-opener into the vicious cycle of the lives of mother's dependent on public assistance. I will admit that in the years of welfare reform, I was among those who applauded it. I personally knew people who were lifetime welfare recipients (or so it seemed to me), but reading this book made me feel ashamed of my across-the-board lumping of all welfare recipients into this category. I was wrong. This book is an eye-opener into the vicious cycle of the lives of mother's dependent on public assistance.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    A refreshing if depressing dose of reality. Flat Broke with Children examines the myths about welfare mothers and exposes the contradictory demands built into the welfare system--demands that reflect the difference between what we (as a culture) say we think and what we really think about gender, work, and dependence.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Nickens

    I assigned the first several chapters of this to my Sociology of Family class 18 months ago. I finally got around to reading the last two chapters. This is a wonderful look at the real world consequences and challenges of welfare reform. The only downfall is that it's dated. I'd love an updated study. Any PhD students need a project? I assigned the first several chapters of this to my Sociology of Family class 18 months ago. I finally got around to reading the last two chapters. This is a wonderful look at the real world consequences and challenges of welfare reform. The only downfall is that it's dated. I'd love an updated study. Any PhD students need a project?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    A truly fantastic read and examination of the effect(s) of welfare reform in America following the transition from AFDC to TANF and the many issues that arise from attacking the symptoms and consequences of poverty, rather than the root causes.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    I had mixed feelings on this one. Very insightful reporting and very well structured project. Some of comments in the book, particularly in the first half of the book, were infuriating though.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nyambura

    Hays is the academic writer I hope to be: she has a clear stance but she presents multiple points of views so the book isn't polemic. Hays is the academic writer I hope to be: she has a clear stance but she presents multiple points of views so the book isn't polemic.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Karah

    I would have loved more anecdotes. Hays devoted much of her analysis to scholarly research. It seemed that she focused less on her personal interviews with the women. This greatly disappointed me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kennedy

    I work with single moms, the subject of this book, and this book is such an insightful look at their lives and how welfare does or does not work for them. Reform has decreased the number of people on welfare, but as this book shows, they aren't necessarily better off. This book studies actual women showing some who are responsible for their situation and some who have had obstacle after obstacle they can't overcome. Its a wonderful book if you are interested in why people are poor and what we do I work with single moms, the subject of this book, and this book is such an insightful look at their lives and how welfare does or does not work for them. Reform has decreased the number of people on welfare, but as this book shows, they aren't necessarily better off. This book studies actual women showing some who are responsible for their situation and some who have had obstacle after obstacle they can't overcome. Its a wonderful book if you are interested in why people are poor and what we do as a society to help them.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    This is an ethnography of how welfare reform played out in two cities (names have been changed for protection, but I have a feeling one is somewhere in Arizona and the other is somewhere in Virginia). The case-study feature makes it easier to contextualize broad policy issues like sanctions and family caps, the individual stories are quite compelling, and overall it's a good introduction to implementation issues that arise in response to federal policies that give states a relative amount of fre This is an ethnography of how welfare reform played out in two cities (names have been changed for protection, but I have a feeling one is somewhere in Arizona and the other is somewhere in Virginia). The case-study feature makes it easier to contextualize broad policy issues like sanctions and family caps, the individual stories are quite compelling, and overall it's a good introduction to implementation issues that arise in response to federal policies that give states a relative amount of freedom in spending block grants.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    This is a book that opened my eyes to reality of single parenting. I am a divorced domestic violence abuse survivor. I survived without child support for special needs kids for 15 years alone. I thought I was the only one not able to get what I needed to finish a degree, get a better job or make a better life for my children. I thought I was unusual, but I was the norm. If you care about women in the US or are one, then you REALLY need to read this book!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    Sharon Hays had no business writing a book about welfare when she has no idea what she is talking about. The book was written by someone who has never personally, nor through someone close to her, known the intricacies of welfare/welfare form. She blatantly used the subject of welfare reform as a vehicle to support her personal agenda on women's rights... Sharon Hays had no business writing a book about welfare when she has no idea what she is talking about. The book was written by someone who has never personally, nor through someone close to her, known the intricacies of welfare/welfare form. She blatantly used the subject of welfare reform as a vehicle to support her personal agenda on women's rights...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Clearly written, succinct, logical, and the sociological focus on individual women and their stories made it extra interesting. I couldn't have asked for more from a book I read for school. I would highly recommend it if you're looking for a book about the 1996 welfare reform or if you're interested in welfare politics and the lives of welfare mothers in general. Clearly written, succinct, logical, and the sociological focus on individual women and their stories made it extra interesting. I couldn't have asked for more from a book I read for school. I would highly recommend it if you're looking for a book about the 1996 welfare reform or if you're interested in welfare politics and the lives of welfare mothers in general.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    Aggressive theoretical approach to the intersection of women and poverty. Very eye-opening, even though it was written right around the time of welfare reform. Good look at intersectionality of domestic violence, single motherhood, breakdown of marriage values supported in reforms vs. policies, lack of male support, etc.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Krissy Haltinner

    The book is a great analysis of the welfare system in America. It shows the underlying messages behind the policies. Important for anyone who has any tendency to judge people who are using public aid.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Again, read most of this for school, and the portions I read were really compelling. The book outlines the problems with welfare reform and how it affects both workers within the system and the women and children for whom the reform is supposed to provide relief and motivation. What a mess.

  27. 5 out of 5

    James

    Really tough to read but worth it. Probably tougher to be a single mother on welfare today than to read it, right? Well- written with convincing solutions that no politician today on either side would touch because we are all neoliberals now.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cimuchowski

    Suggested by Roy Terry

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ashley M

    This book would be very good if I had a deeper interest in the subject. It read better than a textbook and is worthwhile, I just couldn't get into it right now. This book would be very good if I had a deeper interest in the subject. It read better than a textbook and is worthwhile, I just couldn't get into it right now.

  30. 5 out of 5

    RUSA CODES

    This was one of the 2004 RUSA Notable Books winners. For the complete list, go to http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/rus... This was one of the 2004 RUSA Notable Books winners. For the complete list, go to http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/rus...

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