Posted: September 17th, 2017

What suggestions would you have for policy makers in regards to "reforming" the welfare reform programs? How would you fix "the system?"


Additional Resources

NPR Politics & Society, Ten Years of Welfare ReformTalk of the Nation, August 17, 2006

Assignment Instructions

  1. What’s so depressing about getting free money from the government? It sounds like a great deal, doesn’t it? Does welfare help or hurt families?
  2. “Virtually any statement about welfare is no longer universally true across the country. While welfare benefit levels have always varied tremendously, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) gave states autonomy to set eligibility rules and to determine how participants will meet federal work and time limit requirements” (Rowe & Giannarelli, 2006).

Find the specific welfare regulations for Washington State in regarding:

(a) Income Eligibility

(b) Work Activities

(c) Time Limits

(d) Family Caps

What are the pros and cons of each requirement?

  1. Can you live on $9 an hour? Most Americans know the facts about low-wage work, but many have been lucky enough to avoid actually having to live on $8 or $9 an hour. Go to: and play the SPENT game, also watch the movie SPENT  (“Spent: Looking for Change” is a film about everyday Americans without the financial options most of us take for granted and the movement giving them renewed hope).In the SPENT game you will begin with a choice: Would you like to be a server, a warehouse worker or a temp? From there, the choices get more difficult. Should you pay to get your pet medical care, or let the animal suffer? Should you go to the dentist or suffer yourself and save some bucks? Should you let your child and a friend get ice cream, or do you need that $5 for bills? The game is interspersed with facts about the choices people with very little money are making every day, and the consequences of those choices.(a) Report on how well you could manage your money on a very low wage.

(b) Why would a family fall into the money lending traps?


  1. What suggestions would you have for policy makers in regards to “reforming” the welfare reform programs? How would you fix “the system?” Here are some ideas to get you started:

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