Welfare Trap

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The Welfare Trap

Women, namely single mothers, on welfare are trapped in the system by children, job mobility, and lack of funds to create a better life for themselves and their children, which ultimately leads to years of struggle to break free from a system that neither benefits nor supports the women they were created to help.

The welfare system has been infamously labeled as a "free money system" for unmotivated women with children they no longer wish to care to raise. This social stigma has burdened those who truly need government support to survive and get back on their feet. Ironically, welfare does very little to help woman move up the social latter, forcing women to seek alternative sources of income, housing, child-care, and job opportunities. This essay will acknowledge and examine the frustrations women have, brought on by welfare and discuss possible means of correction.

In Don't Call Us Out of Name, by Lisa Dodson, she interviews several Boston locals on welfare during the early 90s. Most women she interviewed were either in their teens of early 20s. All felt they had not other options than to become mothers at such a young age although financially they were not ready, thus forcing them into another situation of having to go on welfare in order to gain some sort of financial stability in order to try and give their babies a deserving future. Again, women see have a child as the only option for them, even though other people looking in from the outside may see otherwise. "…it is difficult to persuade these young women of a future independent of developing a relationship with a man, having children, and caring for a family because they see so little alternative… ‘You can talk and talk till you turn blue but the question is, what do they see… do they see another life? ‘Cause if they don't, save your breath'" (69, Dodson). Young girls feel the only way out of their own families is by starting their own, but most women end up with out a father of their child present, leaving them to care for a new born by themselves. With little help from their own families, the family of the baby's father and welfare, many if not almost all women are forced to find other ways of providing for their child. Illegal or under-the-table work is very common for most, while others sell home goods, their services and sometimes themselves to raise as much money they can to provide. The effect of such stress is the feeling of not being good enough. "These women spoke of addictions, the haunting terror of losing children, and the worst feeling of all, that maybe you should lose them because you are such trash. Some spoke in teeth-clenched tomes, others fought tears from spilling, and a few became absolutely silent" (143, Dodson).

The most important thing to a woman on welfare is her child. Yet single mothers struggle to juggle either working or finding a job and care for a child. In Rosanna Hertz's Working to Place Family at the Center of Life: Dual-Earner and Single-Parent Strategies, she talks about single mothers and what they have to go through in order to take care of their children. Women who work are extremely dedicated to family because they work around caring for a family and the primary source of income for the family is through their job. Because these women have no second person or partner to help them raise the child/ children then they must work twice as hard in order to provide their child with daycare or look for other outside sources to help care for the child while at work. "Unlike the dual-earner couples, these single mothers have fewer resources internal to the family to call on in trying to cultivate external resources- in broader kin and friendship networks- to help them put family first" (254, Hertz, FF). Women also work multiple jobs in order to provide for their children and keep family at the center of their lives. Most women who work multiple jobs or extremely long hours hardly...
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