Book Discussion on Flat Broke With Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform
Mar 20, 2003
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Sharon Hays discussed her book Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform
, published by Oxford University Press. The book examines welfare reform from its enforcement in the welfare office to its .. Read More
Sharon Hays discussed her book Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform, published by Oxford University Press. The book examines welfare reform from its enforcement in the welfare office to its effect on the lives of welfare recipients. According to statistics, over 90 percent of adults receiving assistance are mothers with dependent children. In researching the book, Ms. Hays devoted three years to visiting two welfare offices and their clients, one in a medium-sized town in the Southeast, another in a large, metropolitan area in the West. While reform has resulted in a steep decline in the welfare rolls--from 4.4 million families in 1996 to 2.1 million in 2001, Ms. Hays contends that the time limits imposed by welfare reform push millions of low skilled, mostly unmarried women into the labor market. They are usually qualified to accept only menial work for low wages, poor hours, and no benefits. Ms. Hays also points out that welfare reform reveals a contradiction about the meaning of work and family life in our society. She argues that our culture emphasizes traditional family values, yet the American ethic of “personal responsibility” requires that these women work, forcing them to leave their children in childcare or at home alone. After her remarks, Ms. Hays answered questions from members of the audience.