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Waging war on welfare

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Welfare is not a favorable word. Many people view the word with distaste and discomfort. Public aid is not something you want to be associated with because of its underlying meaning. If you are on welfare, you have failed and are unable to take care of yourself and your family. I reject this unsavory idea. Each person ends up on welfare for their own reasons, each has taken a different path to end up with those food stamps.

There is talk among politicians about possibly decreasing welfare benefits. Those that are in favor of this new plan ask why give free food and housing to those who do no work, while I am working hard to support myself and my family?

It can be aggravating if you think of it that way. Citizens do find ways to abuse this public aid by not finding a job so they can continue on welfare. Some women continually have children to receive additional benefits too. I have first-hand knowledge of this, as my family works for the Department of Family and Child Services (DCFS).

I have seen mothers birth countless children just to gain more aid. Of course, this plan backfires when the children are taken away by DCFS and placed in foster homes. Many parents believe life is easier if they just live off of welfare instead of getting a job. They feel that having a legitimate job is more work than they are willing to do for the same benefits they receive from the government. Also, chances are if they get a job, it will be low paying.

I know of one woman, who as a drug addict, relied on government assistance for everything including her house, health care and food stamps. Her addiction took over her life. The money she did have was for drugs. Everything else she got from the state. She only cared for herself and did not think about her three young children.

This forces me to think about what would have happened to her children if there was no welfare for her to use. Would her children starve? Surely, she would not feed them while she had the opportunity to feed her own ravenous drug addiction. I believe the kids lived because she used public aid to feed them and get them health care when needed.

Since her youngest child was born, Medicaid payed her daughter’s heavy medical bills. Her youngest child, whom I will call Cathy, had cancer since she was a few months old. Cathy would have died if there was no state funding to pay the bills. Her mother probably would have not tried to get her medical care. Because of Medicaid, Cathy is cancer-free today. Now 7-years-old, she recovered from her kidney transplant and is doing well in a foster home. Every time I think of her angelic face and contagious smile, I am reminded that all welfare is not wasted.

Cathy and her siblings are just a few of the millions of citizens who depend on welfare to get them through a tough time. In recent years, many families have fallen into economic crisis and need government aid to keep them afloat. When my father faced the possibility of losing his job due to massive layoffs at Allstate, I prayed we would be spared. At the time, my mother wasn’t working and we would have taken a hard fall. If we had to rely on public aid, things would shift greatly but at least we would still be able to eat.

Since my family fosters for DCFS, the children are on Medicaid when they come into our care. While we have the kids, we can get assistance through a program called WIC (Women, Infants and Children). This form of welfare provides mothers with useful information on how to properly raise and feed their children. Mothers can start taking their child to WIC as soon as they are born. WIC provides baby formula, baby food and food plans for growing children. The staff also check the child’s physical and mental development, so if an intervention is required it can be done in a timely fashion.

All foster children we have had visited WIC monthly so their development could be tracked by DCFS. As I visited the WIC office, located in our local welfare office, I witnessed people who so desperately depended on the government services. Hundreds of people walked in needing running water, food, heat and living quarters. I also saw the dozens of thank you letters and pictures pasted on the walls from the eternally grateful citizens who were helped by that particular center. If this center received a cut in funding, they would not be able to help the people in this low income area.

Despite what others think and say, I see the full benefits of this aid. Yes, it is true that not everyone respects the program but think of all those who truly appreciate it. When they are down on their luck, nothing means more than knowing there is a way to receive assistance. If we cut back on the welfare how many will suffer? We may never know the exact number of honest people who are helped but those of us who are fortunate enough to go without welfare should not try to take it away from those who might need it. We never know when things might take a turn for the worst and when we might find ourselves in need of what welfare has to offer.

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