During the twentieth century, the U.S. both saw the development of a social welfare system to serve nonelderly families and a subsequent dramatic overhaul of the cash welfare part of that system. The first part of the course considers the development of the American welfare state over time. It analyzes the evolution from 1965 to 1996 of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program and other social welfare programs and policies that shaped the social safety net for the non-elderly. We will examine the different and changing philosophies that have influenced the development of social welfare policy in the U.S., with a strong focus on understanding the ways in which notions concerning race and gender have shaped policies. The section concludes with a discussion of the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996.
The second part of the course considers the legacy of the 1996 reform and the operation and effects of the new cash welfare program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). In this section, we will examine the implementation and administration of the program and its effects on current and former recipients. Since TANF caseloads are currently so small, we will examine other programs and policies (or the lack thereof) that can or could assist low-income families. The final part of the course takes a comparative view and a look toward the future. We will examine social welfare programs and policies in other advanced industrial nations. Particular attention will be paid to analyzing a wide range of social policy reform options that might be implemented within the U.S. to reduce poverty.
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Associate Professor of Social Work; Associate Professor of Public Policy;
Seefeldt’s primary research interests lie in exploring how low-income individuals understand their situations, particularly around issues related to work and economic well being. Currently, she is conducting research on families’ financial coping strategies and is a Principal Investigator of a survey examining the effects of the recession and recovery policies on individuals’ well being.