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State welfare review

Future welfare recipients may not have to deal with some of the problems junior Petra Maria Schongtes faced because congress may change TANF, Temporary Assistant for Needy Families, on Sept. 30.

Schongtes is one of the many people left scrambling as the welfare deadline looms.

In 1996, congress terminated the nation’s 60 year-old welfare program. In its place TANF was created to allow states to tailor the welfare program to their needs.

However, some community organizers and welfare recipients say the law came with too many restrictions.

One such restriction was the five year time limit approved during Clinton’s administration that placed a maximum on the number of years that adults could receive welfare funds.

Schontges will be among over 100,000 California welfare recipients in December to be cut off the program due to the five-year limit.

Mother of a nine-year-old girl, Schontges, juggles motherhood, work and school in order to beat the welfare system.

Only one semester away from obtaining her degree, Schontges must act fast in order to remain in school and stay financially a float.

“They want everyone off, it’s all about politics and money. So, they are willing

to go through almost any means necessary so that they can kick you

off,” said Schontges. ” For people who are in social traps for whatever reason, they are the ones that the system is going to hurt. This is a social system set up for the masses

and not for the individual.”

After years of dealing with TANF, Schontges has yet to even meet her caseworker. “The system sees me as a number. My caseworker has no idea who I am. I know that they are tying… but a system like this needs individual attention,” she said.

According to Siobahn Reilly, assistant economics professor, the major problem with the welfare program is that families are already forced to work too many hours for too little pay in order to continue receiving basic benefits.

Karin Martinson and Pamela Holcomb members of the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan organization stated, “TANF has resulted in a more complicated service delivery system that is prone to coordination difficulties, mixed messages, clients falling through cracks, and other problems.”

The current reauthorization will last until 2007 leaving much at stake for all

those involved.

The Bush administration has proposed a new welfare reform plan with stricter laws, which require that recipients work more hours in the week.

Bush’s plan, which waits for a vote in the senate calls for full-time education to be decreased to only four months and once every two years for those receiving welfare benefits.

The hope for community organizers and recipients is that when the reauthorization deadline comes and goes, laws will be passed to enable needy families to successfully support themselves, not inhibit them from doing so.