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Making Ends Meet How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work Group Question What do you already know about welfare? Do you consider welfare to be a good thing or a bad thing? Terms to Know Poverty line = three X the annual cost of a nutritionally adequate diet

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making ends meet

Making Ends Meet

How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work

group question
Group Question
  • What do you already know about welfare?
  • Do you consider welfare to be a good thing or a bad thing?
terms to know
Terms to Know
  • Poverty line = three X the annual cost of a nutritionally adequate diet
  • AFDC: Old welfare system
  • TANF: new welfare system (2 years and then off)
  • As many as 56% of single mothers live below the poverty line.
  • 12-15% of US population below poverty line
  • 21.9% of US children below poverty line
  • ~25% of African Americans below poverty line
  • ~22% of Hispanics
  • Even though in general, individuals from diverse groups tend to be poor, more whites live in poverty than any other group.
  • People get rich on welfare.
    • 1992: Labor department finds that although families in poverty state an income of only $180/ month, they claimed expenses of $1,100/ month.
  • Generations of people stay on welfare their whole lives and then so do their kids.
    • Even before timelines, a “substantial majority” of welfare recipients were off w/in 2 years and “hardly any” were still on at 8 years.
    • 2/3 of all children who received welfare as a child are never on it as an adult.
3 member family expenditures

$307: AFDC

$222: Food stamps

$ 36: SSI

$ 50: child support

$615: Total (on the books)


$213: Housing

$262: Food

$336 Other Needs

$64: Wants

$876: Total

3 MemberFamily Expenditures
by the numbers
By the Numbers…
  • $367/ month: Median welfare income (1993).
  • $8-$10/ hour: Money needed to get off welfare.
  • 25%: Amount more than what they get that family needs to be independent.
  • 33%: Percentage of families that ran out of food that month even with food stamps.
  • 16%: Amount of mothers who were homeless within 24 month period of being interviewed.
  • 86%: Mothers with plans to leave welfare.
all mothers had some supplemental money
All mothers had some supplemental money…
  • Other methods of gaining money:
    • Job Skills
    • Interpersonal Skills
    • Charms for man’s money
  • What if you don’t have these?
    • Live with your parents (mother).
    • Leave the children with you parents (mother) (2% of all children).
    • Shelters
    • Children go to foster care system (0.6% of all children).
other sources of monthly income
Other Sources ofMonthly Income

NIR = Not in residence

networking for income

Often paid for the necessary extras.

Items instead of cash were given.

Actions (babysitting, etc.) are often part of the benefits as well.


If you have a windfall, you need to share it.

If someone needs something done for them, you are obligated to help.

Damage to relationships if you ask too often.

Time involved keeps you from being able to work.

Networking for Income
child support
Child Support
  • When a woman gets welfare, she signs away the right to child support.
  • The father is still pursued by the state, but most of the money goes back to the state.
group project
Group Project
  • Use the packets that I distributed for you to budget (time and money) for the following scenario:
    • You are a single mother of 3 children (age 2, 5, and 9) without a live-in boyfriend. You dropped out of high school when you got pregnant with the youngest. You are still in contact with the father of the two oldest, but you aren’t involved anymore. He has 2 other children. Your mother lives near-by, but you don’t get along well with your father (abusive alcoholic). You and the children are healthy. The school has been describing behavior problems with the 9 year old.
good mother good provider
Good mother/ Good provider
  • Most of the mothers felt that criminal activity allowed them to be good providers but not good mothers. So, to this end, few of them engaged in it.
wants not needs
Wants, not needs
  • “For most people an occasional luxury is a necessity, and the line between the two is less clear cut.”
  • More worried about being “normal” than being frugal.
  • Mothers bought cable TV so that their children would stay off the street.
problems with working
Problems with Working
  • Pay for childcare
  • Pay for transportation
  • Reduced food stamps with increased income
  • Decrease in housing subsidy.
  • May lose Medicaid benefits (and children’s insurance as well).
  • If lose job, takes months to get paid through welfare again.
  • Single mothers making $5-$7 per hour were worse off than those on welfare alone.
why not just provide more money
Why not just provide more money?
  • Increase taxes for middle and upper class (non-poverty).
  • Idea that, “if they can work, they should work.”
  • Idea that, “if you help out single mothers, there will be more of them.”
  • Idea that, “fathers will support the babies and their mothers.”
group project18
Group Project
  • What are some other reasons not to just throw money at the problem?
    • Critique (positive and negative) the statements from the previous slide.
    • Add any new statements that you think are applicable.
    • How much is enough? How much is too little?
quotes about school
Quotes About School
  • “In the winter months, I have had to keep my children at home on the really cold days because I didn’t have warm clothes to dress them.”
  • “Suppose you have to go up to the school. You’ve got to be a full0time mother, then you’ve got to be a breadwinner, .. a nursemaid…. Maybe your child is having behavioral or learning problems at the same time in school.”
group project20
Group Project
  • What information discussed is in-line with Ruby Payne?
  • What information does not go with Ruby Payne’s statements?