The quality of life of single mothers on welfare in Georgia and the 1996 Welfare Reform
Alzate, Monica Maria
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Some of the ethical principles of the National Association of Social Workers remind professionals to enhance clients’ capacity to change, to advocate for social justice, and to expand people’s choices. Guided by these basic principles, this research studied the quality of life of single mothers on welfare in Georgia under feminist, human development and social development perspectives. For this purpose, their quality of life was measured using the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations, which enables governments to determine priorities for policy interventions (UNDP, 1994). At the same time, this study measured the quality of life of the population of the state of Georgia, per county and race (black and white), and ranked counties based on their HDI scores and HDI dimensions scores. This permitted a comparison of quality of life in general, and in particular, the counties’ Median Household Income, Health, Education, and Standard of Living. It also evidenced the fact that a higher income and standard of living does not necessarily imply an equal position in health, education, or quality of life. And that it is possible to achieve better positions in health, education, and quality of life despite lower positions in income and standard of living. Independent sample t tests and one way ANOVAS demonstrate the gap in the quality of life between the black and white populations of Georgia and women on welfare. Additionally, a regression analysis reflected the negative effect of child poverty on the quality of life of the overall population, particularly of the black population and women on welfare, and the positive effect of the total personal income of the counties on the white population. Results suggest that gender and racial inequity and discrimination must be eliminated from the welfare system to transform it from a work program into a well-being strategy. They also evidence that despite the fact that most of the TANF recipients are women, the program principles were not designed to meet women’s needs.