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The US Welfare System

The US Welfare System

Sample Answer 

The US Welfare System

The United States’ welfare history began long before the renowned creation of government welfare programs. In earlier days, the colonies imported the British Poor Laws (Sherraden, 2016). The British Poor Laws differentiated between the poor who could not work because of their physical health or age and those who were able-bodied but not employed. The former were helped with either money or alternative governmental help, and the latter was employment in the public service. Throughout the 19th Century, the history of welfare continued in the attempt to reform ways in which the government was dealing with the poor. Some of the changes tried to help the needy to find work instead of continuing to need help. Social casework that consisted of caseworkers who visited poor people and provided them training on work ethics and morals, was encouraged in the late 19th Century by reformers.

Before the Great Depression, various programs were supported by the U.S. Congress in order to assist poor people (Sherraden, 2016). Among them was a Civil War Pension Program passed in the year 1862, which aided the veterans of the Civil War and their families. By the time the Great Depression hit the country, a lot of families had suffered, in which an estimated 25% of the labor force had remained unemployed during the Depression’s worst part. With many households experiencing financial problems, the U.S. government decided to step in to solve this kind of problem, and that is where welfare history began.

Under the administration of President Roosevelt, there was the enactment of the Social Security Act in the year 1935 (Stern, 2012). This Act established several programs tailored to aid a variety of segments in the general population. Aid to Dependent Children, currently known as AFDC, and unemployment compensation are among the programs that are still in existence today. There was the creation of several governmental agencies to oversee the programs. Some United States agencies dealing with welfare are the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Education.

The funding of the Head Start State Collaboration Offices was done in 1990 as an experimental project, just like the Head Start program, which was enacted in 1965 as an experiment (Stern, 2012). Initially, twelve states were funded to create essential partnerships between the states and Head Start to meet the highly intertwined, complex, and difficult problems that involved improving services for poor children and their families. Ten more states were funded two years later, and by the year 1997, all fifty states were already being funded.

The history of welfare in the U.S. continued where in the year 1996 the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was signed by President Bill Clinton (Stern, 2012). Under that Act, the federal government provides a yearly lump sum to different states to help the economically disadvantaged. In turn, states must observe some criteria to ensure that the beneficiaries are encouraged to move to work.

Local, state, and federal governments operate within the United States government system (Behnke, 2017). Each governmental level is responsible for specific powers and functions. Compared to other types of governmental systems, the advantages of federalism are many benefits, including policy diversity and greater experimentation resulting from the incremental change of policy on the basis of debate, intergovernmental relations, and greater cultural and ethnic minority accommodation in specific regions and states. Since the local, state, and national governments in the United States tend to share some powers, the departments and branches collaborate to accomplish mutual goals (Behnke, 2017). The responsibility of officers of the public affair at the local level is to represent a city’s interest within the broader context of the government. The intergovernmental relations department is tasked with monitoring the activities of the state and federal governments. They are also tasked with the development of legislative programs, coordination with other departments, and the management of the city’s state and federal consultants. Also, officers of public affair may identify state and national initiatives and legislation which affects the city. The intergovernmental relations department of a particular city may serve as a link between the city council and the office of the mayor.


Behnke, N., & Mueller, S. (2017). The purpose of intergovernmental councils: A framework for analysis and comparison. Regional & Federal Studies27(5), 507-527.

Sherraden, M., & Gilbert, N. (2016). Assets and the poor: New American welfare policy. Routledge.

Stern, M. J., & Axinn, J. (2012). Social welfare: A history of the American response to need. Pearson Education.


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The US Welfare System

Write and submit an essay of 500-700 words describing the history and role of the welfare system in the U.S. along with attempts to improve the efficiency of the program.

The US Welfare System

The US Welfare System

What is the role of intergovernmental relations in the administration of the U.S. welfare system? (use APA Format: 1″ margins; double-spaced; 12 point Times Roman or Cambria).

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