Many people are not aware that there are a number of social welfare programs available in the states to assist those who struggle to support themselves and their families. These programs have advantages as well as potential dangers and disadvantages.
What Are Social Welfare Programs?
A special welfare program is any program provided by the government for the purpose of assisting families and individuals who require aid in supporting themselves. Aid is offered in the following forms:
- Family cash aid
- Welfare to work
- Aid to dependent children
- Food stamps
- Unemployment insurance
- Disability insurance
- Some form of national health care
These are not the only social welfare programs available in the USA and there are plenty of other programs in place specifically designed to help needy people survive. One way to describe these programs is a social safety net that exists to protect people from financial ruin and aimed at reducing the poverty level as far as is possible.
Types Of Social Welfare
- You must apply for or have a Social Security number, OR
- You must be a U.S. citizen, OR
- You must be a U.S. national, OR
- You must have qualified alien status
- You must present identification
- You must present proof of income
- You must present proof utility bills
- You must present proof medical bills
- You must present proof child care expenses
- You must present proof receipts for rent or mortgage payments
- Your household cannot have more than $2,000 in resources (unless a person with a disability or a person over the age of 60 resides there, in which case the amount is $3000)
Head Start is a social welfare program aimed at ensuring that all families receive an appropriate level of assistance in order to ensure that that their children get a good education. The program specifically focuses on early childhood development. According to the Office of Head Start (OHS), “the program promotes school readiness by improving the social and cognitive development of enrolled children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services”. There are, as with any other social welfare program, a number of eligibility requirements that must be met before such assistance will be given, so it is important that you know what these requirements are and that you adhere to them.
Medicaid is a program aimed at ensuring that all families receive adequate medical care. This program is offered at a state level, so, although it is offered in all states, the eligibility requirements and distribution practices will vary. However it does tend to depend on:
- The severity of the illness or illnesses that you or one of your family members have that requires medical attention.
- The degree to which you are in financial need as an individual or family.
The Medicaid eligibility rules are quite strict and many families who are not eligible for Medicaid are also unable to pay for their own health insurance. However, most states offer other health care benefits and packages as well that are more accessible to the general public. Further research in your own particular state will be required to determine the extent of this.
This is very similar to the food stamp program. Essentially families are given a debit card or food stamp book which they can use at selected stores to purchase selected products. They receive a limited amount of aid for this purpose a month, and not all stores take part, but it is a very good way for families to ensure that they are able to provide enough food for themselves as well as for their children. Food banks are also an option when it comes to nutritional assistance. Food banks are usually in set locations and provide families with food when they go there. Generally speaking the food is gathered through donations from the general public as well as from a few major food chains and grocery stores in certain parts of the country.
When people are laid off they have the opportunity to claim unemployment benefits. This is essentially a substitute for your salary so that you will be able to go on supporting yourself. The monetary amount that you receive will not, however, be as much as your previous salary in most cases. Funds for unemployment benefits are gathered through taxes. Usually these taxes are taken from employers, companies, and businesses as a percentage of their profit and based on the number of employees that they have there. Not everyone without a job will be able to claim unemployment benefits and it depends to a large degree on your reason for not having work. This is different to disability benefits that are paid to people who are physically unable to work.
Because having a roof over your head is an important aspect of a good quality of life, there are a number of social welfare programs in place that are aimed at providing housing assistance to those who need it. These programs work in one of two ways:
- In some cases, affordable apartments are offered to reduce homelessness and provide viable housing options for low-income individuals and families.
- In other cases, assistance is offered by the government to low-income families that are attempting to buy a house.
Families with children will especially be able to benefit from housing assistance as providing shelter and protections for children is considered to be a top priority right across the nation. However anyone who meets the eligibility requirements should be able to get housing assistance.
Making People Aware Of Social Welfare Programs
If you know of a good social welfare program or if you have started a social welfare program of some kind, you need to make an effort to inform people that the program exists. There are four ways in which you can do this:
- Get to know your audiences and how they like to communicate.
- Write about the social welfare program on blogs and in newspapers so that people know that it exists.
- Talk to everyone you can think of about your social welfare program and encourage workers in the program to do the same as far as possible.
- Ask your local government to list your program in its community service pages and post your own flyers at community centers and other places where they are likely to be seen by your target audience.
- Financial Benefit: The main benefit of these programs is that they provide financial relief to people who are struggling to maintain their financial standing in life. For example, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families fund can help single mothers cope.
- Practical Benefit: Because programs are often only temporary they inspire people to get back on their own feet and find work.
- Programs Funded by Contributions: The programs are often funded by tax payers money, meaning that you will have access to the program on the basis that you contributed to it if you meet the requirements.
- Social Safety Net: These programs act as a social safety net for people who are experiencing temporary social problems and who need temporary assistance in order to stay on their feet.
- Societal Danger: Culture of Dependency: There are many dangers that people are afraid of in terms of social welfare programs but the most popular one stems from the belief that people will not want to work if they think that they can rely on the social system to support them.
- Political Danger: According to http://www.ehow.com/list_6784355_benefits-dangers-social-welfare-programs.html: “welfare programs can also serve as political tools, providing the destitute with just enough aid to pacify them and dissuade them from organizing politically against governmental inefficiencies”. IN short they can be used as a form of control by the government. (Others see this as a positive move to maintain peace in society).
- Programs too Expensive: One of the cons of these programs is that they are expensive to run and maintain and many see them as a drain on the country’s financial resources.
Social welfare programs have their place provided people do not take advantage of them when they are not in genuine need of the benefits offered. In addition you should avoid becoming too dependent on social welfare benefits as there are many opportunities out there for you to better yourself and create a situation where you are able to support yourself without assistance from others. Social welfare benefits should be treated as temporary means to support yourself while you are in the process of getting back on your feet. They should in no way be looked at as a permanent solution to your situation.