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Unformatted text preview: 24 Flat Broke with Children SHARON HAYS The Four Questions 1. What is the problem identified by Hays? 2. Is it a social problem? Does it affect many people? Is it caused by social factors? Does it have importance to society? 3. What is the cause of this problem? 4. Does Hays suggest some way to alleviate the problem? Topics Covered Gender inequality Poverty Family Welfare Childcare Child support E ver since the inception of government-funded programs for the poor, policymakers have believed that the giving of benefits comes with the right to interfere in the family lives of the poor .I This is a notable exception to our strong cultural and constitutional prohibitions against state interfer- ence in private lives, particularly familial behavior. As political theorist Gwendolyn Mink argues in Wel- fare's End, the legal guarantee of privacy has been central to protecting basic family rights: to marry or not to marry, to make choices about reproduction and childrearing, and to determine living and custo- dial arrangements . Exceptions made in the case of the welfare poor have historically allowed, for instance, proper home requirements to determine the "suitability" of living arrangements and child- rearing practices, "man-in-the-house" rules prohib- iting m en from sharing hom es with welfare mothers, and attempts to control the reproductive behavior of poor women, including cases of forced sterilization . As Mink and others have noted, these policies often operated to discriminate against women (disproportionately nonwhite women) who were considered lacking in moral "virtue" All the most blatantly discriminatory policies have been struck down by the courts.2 A few questionable fam- ily regulations have remained, however, and welfare reform has strengthened those and added more, reas- serting the right of government to interfere in the familial life of the poor. Welfare caseworkers therefore dutifully enforce a series of policies aimed at compelling responsible maternal behavior. The least intrusive is the demand that all children be properly vaccinated- verification is mandatory if the mother is to receive government aid . More onerous are the truancy requirements: all mothers with children aged 5 to 18 are held responsible for their children's school attendance. If a child misses three days in a row, five days in a month, or seven days over a longer period, the child is considered truant . The mother is called into the welfare office, where she must provide an account of the problem and formally outline a "plan" for getting the child to go to school . If the mother fails to control her child's SOURCE : From Chapter 3, "Promoting Family values," from Flat Broke with Children : Women in the Age of Welfare Reform by Sharon Hays ; copyright © 2003 by Sharon Hays . Used by permission of Oxford University Press, Inc....
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This note was uploaded on 02/28/2010 for the course SOCY SOCY - 203 taught by Professor Brianhawkins during the Spring '10 term at University of Colombo.
- Spring '10