Living on the Edge in Suburbia

Living on the Edge in Suburbia

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Westchester County, New York, is thought of as suburban and affluent, but welfare reform hit hard here, too. The radical 1996 legislation created a temporary assistance program for poor families with harsher provisions than the program it replaced. It mandates qworkfare, q meaning that recipients must work as a condition of benefit receipt. But the work parents obtain in the so-called flexible labor market--jobs like home health care aide--are inflexible for them. One sick child can mean the loss of a job. In contrast to accounts of inner-city poor families, these suburban parents' stories reveal a broad array of precipitating circumstances leading to their downward economic slide and to welfare. They also provide insight into the bureaucratic machinations, rigid rules and mandates, disciplining techniques, and catch-22s that create an insecure environment for many families today. Many of these stories show that the need for welfare over time extends well beyond the federal government's five-year lifetime limit on welfare. Policies emphasizing work first also restrict access to education and further hinder parents' ability to gain a toehold in the economy. In this tale of people and policies, the author shows how the interests of governments are often at variance with those of vulnerable families, and how some government actions place more pressure on lives replete with stress.a€œNo, a€ she said, a€œita#39;s like whatever you do, you cana#39;t get out. ... Ita#39;s like no matter how much I do, Ia#39;m not gonna get out of here. ... My son, he tells me this morning, a€œGet off me, Ia#39;m gonna hit you. ... AH: Every week I spend $11 on pull-ups. ... when she does not have the money, she walks. ... Although wearing street clothes would be slightly cheaper, Amber chooses to wear a $20 uniform (scrubs) to Insecurityanbsp;...

Title:Living on the Edge in Suburbia
Author:Terese Lawinski
Publisher:Vanderbilt University Press - 2010-07-09


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