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The poverty of single mothers in the United States remains to be a social problem that requires effective solutions even though several programs and policies are proposed to address this issue. Currently, single mothers in the United States face a problem of working extra hours and selecting low-wage jobs (Povich, Roberts, & Mather, 2014). The adoption of the effective policy is required to resolve this problem.
Scope of the Problem
The poverty of single mothers is a problem that needs the detailed analysis and the adequate response because about 10 million of single-parent families in the United States were headed by mothers in 2013, and these numbers tend to grow (United States Census Bureau, 2014). Among these families, only 40% of mothers are employed, and about 60% of families live in poverty and require the social and financial support (Povich et al., 2014). The social and economic conditions of these families can be improved only with references to the provision of labor opportunities and support.
The typical causes of the single-mothers’ unemployment and poverty are the lack of education to receive the well-paid job and the absence of the social support to provide the adequate care for children (Povich et al., 2014).
As a result, single mothers cannot find the appropriate job, or on the contrary, they need to work extra hours to overcome the issue of being impoverished. The consequences of this problem are the inadequate support and care for children, the lack of nutrition and healthcare, and the inability to provide children with the high-quality education (Falk, 2016). Single-parent families are at risk of developing psychological and social problems in both mothers and children as a result of the economic pressures (Povich et al., 2014). Mothers feel the constant stress while trying to find or keep jobs, and children experience the stress because of social environments, the unhealthy lifestyle, and the lack of the social support.
Available Options to Address the Problem
To address the problem of poverty about single mothers in the United States, the policymakers included this issue in the adopted programs. In 1974, the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program was introduced to guarantee the nutrition for children aged 0-5 years old and living in low-income families (United States Department of Agriculture, 2016). This program addresses the needs of low-income single mothers regarding the children’s nutrition. However, the response to the problem is limited because the assistance is provided only during the first years of the child’s life.
In 1996, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) was launched to help low-income families during a certain period (Falk, 2016). The payments are regularly, and to receive the assistance, single mothers need to have a job and meet certain criteria. Recently, the number of criteria increased proportionally to the decreased number of families that can receive the assistance (Falk, 2016). Although this program is aimed at providing the most complex response to the problem of poverty in single-parent families, the modern tendencies demonstrate that the program requires the revision.
In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was enacted to invest into the variety of fields to support the Americans during the period of the economic crisis (The White House, 2016). According to this Act, children from low-income families were provided with opportunities to have healthy meals at school, and this initiative was funded in the context of investments in education (The White House, 2016). The National School Lunch Program also provides children from low-income families with healthy lunches (National Free School Lunch Program, 2016).
To address the problem of poverty typical of families with single mothers, it is necessary to propose adjustments to the TANF program because it proposes the most holistic approach to addressing the needs of low-income families. Although the program has weaknesses, they can be overcome. The TANF program can provide single mothers with the potentially complex assistance that can be more expanded in comparison to the help offered in the context of the WIC program and the National School Lunch Program focused on the children’s nutrition (Falk, 2016). The concrete recommendations for improving the TANF program in terms of meeting single-parent families’ needs are the following ones:
- Change criteria which should be addressed by single mothers to be involved in the program to provide more women with an opportunity to receive the assistance.
- Create opportunities for involving non-employed women who can receive the social support and become employed in the context of the program.
- Create opportunities for single mothers to receive the training and education.
- Increase the number of annual grants and the associated financing provided to states to support single mothers.
Thus, the TANF program should be adjusted in terms of involving more single mothers, expanding the variety of provided services, decreasing the number of criteria to receive the assistance, increasing the annual financing, and providing more grants for states. The improved program will offer single mothers the most complex assistance and the social support.
These proposed changes can influence the experience of social workers because they will be expected to provide more psychological and social support for single mothers. Also, the cooperation of social workers and families will be prolonged. Furthermore, the increase in the number of single mothers involved in the program requires expanding the social services staff to supervise these families.
National Free School Lunch Program. (2016). Web.
Povich, D., Roberts, B., & Mather, M. (2014). Low-income working mothers and state policy: Investing a better future. Web.
The White House. (2016). Poverty. Web.
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United States Census Bureau. (2014). America’s families and living arrangements, 2013: Family groups. Web.
United States Department of Agriculture. (2016). Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Web.