Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Guest Blog with Intern Robinne Zeliznat

In our society today, welfare mothers remain one of the most marginalized and powerless social groups. Since 1996, the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) programs has strived to improve health care and financial assistance to members of our society that are currently dependent on the Welfare System. Many of those that are opposed to the welfare system or cash assistance to resourceless families often cite that this program is a drain on our economic system and that this program is likely to be manipulated by individuals that simply do not wish to find stable employment. The evidence to refute this claim is limitless and must be promoted in order to preserve the integrety of such a vital institution.

That fact of the matter is that the average number of tax dollars spent per welfare recipient is under $700 per month. On the other hand, it costs nearly $20,000 per month for each inmate that is housed in a state correctional institution. Many of the individuals that participate in welfare programs are likely to work in menial positions that offer minimum wage and few if any benefit. They are also more likely to rely on inefficient public transportation, low quality health care and child care, and work long hours under strenuous physical conditions. As a member of the democratic party, I am confident in noting that TANF has proved to be a comendable program that has reached out and touched the lives of a plethora of individuals who would have otherwise been left behind. Still, much reform will be needed in order to ensure that needy families will successfully be able to reintegrate after their federally allotted time on welfare has lapsed. As a society, we must come together in order to aid families by providing job training, education, stringently regulated child care services and transportation alternatives to welfare recipients.

Robinne Zeliznat is a Graduate student at the University of Oklahoma and an intern for the Oklahoma Democratic Party

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