Social Welfare in the Us

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Social Welfare is defined as being programs that are run by government to promote the well being of its citizens. Throughout the history of the United States Social Welfare programs have been subject to many changes, due to the changing philosophies of Us Citizens.

During Colonial times Social Welfare needs were met primarily through mutual aid. The majority of people lived in farming communities. People in these communities lived in extended families. People generally worked together to support each other. If a person had a problem their families and communities reached out to help. Only rarely were there people who did not get their needs met by their families. In that event, churches or private organizations usually stepped into help these people. (Morales, Sheafor, 2000)

The 1800's and early 1900's brought about major changes to families and to the economy. People began to move away from farms and into cities where there were jobs. People began to rely solely on themselves rather than their extended families for support. As industrialization began machines began to take over work that was previously done by people. People found it increasingly hard to find work that could sustain their needs. People who were from vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, had a difficult time getting their needs met. People began to have a real need for social welfare programs that were beyond what families and communities could provide. (Morales, Sheafor, 2000)

As Colonial America grew more complex, the localized systems of relief were strained. The result was some limited movement to state funding and the creation of poor

houses to ‘contain' the problem. (Tanenhaus, 2000) Relief was made as unpleasant as possible in order to discourage dependence. Those people who received relief could lose their personal property, their right to vote, their right to move, and in some cases were even required to were a large "P" on their clothing to announce their status. (SSA History Page).

The 1930's brought about economic disaster for the United States. Unemployment levels soared to 25%. (SSA) Suddenly there were all types of people who were unable to meet their own needs. People could no longer justify economic failure as moral defects. Economic disaster became so widespread during the Great Depression that people had no choice but to look to the US Government to help meet their needs. In 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed several social programs that were designed to assist those in need.

The cornerstone of these social welfare programs was the Social Security Act of 1935. This was the first time that the United States Government used federal and public funds to meet the welfare needs of the people. This insured that the elderly and the disabled could maintain at least a minimum standard of living. Social Security is post retirement insurance. It is financed through payroll taxes on wages. Benefits are to be paid directly from the federal government to individuals who are over the age of 62, disabled persons, or to children of deceased or disabled parents. (SSA)

Another program that was established during this time was Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). AFDC was a federally mandated program that guaranteed

cash assistance to families with needy children. Needy children were defined as having been "deprived of parental support or care because their father or mother is absent form the home continuously, is incapacitated, is deceased, or is unemployed. (Page, Larner, Vol 7 pg. 21) Both Social Security and AFDC were both entitlement programs. They provide benefits as a matter of right to those who meet the criteria established by law.

During the 1960's there was a great expansion in social programs. In 1964, the Food Stamp Act expanded the role of the federal government in giving food coupons to needy families. In 1965 President Johnson proposed a set of...
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