TANF Critique

6.1 Critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment – TANF

1. Explore “the ways social systems [i.e., organizational macro systems] promote or deter people in maintaining or achieving health and well-being.”
2. Identify some of the pros and cons of TANF.
3. Appraise the potential effects of TANF on poor, single mothers and their families

Read the following case example and address the subsequent questions at the end of the Case.
***Re-type each question and respond using critical thinking and solid analysis in a
minimum of one paragraph responses. You “must” provide at least one reference from
the Kirst-Ashman text or Menakam that supports your answer.

CASE EXAMPLE: Kaitlyn, 24, is a single mother with three children Sean, 2, Shane, 4, and Shannon, 5. She has an eleventh -grade education, as she dropped out of high school to live with Irving, the children’s father. Irving, 35, had lived with the family for six years until one year ago when he abruptly left without warning. Kaitlyn thought she had been smelling a woman’s perfume on his clothing for several months prior to his leaving. Although Kaitlyn loved Irving, he had refused to marry her, maintaining that marriage only ruins the spontaneity in a relationship. One Sunday Kaitlyn came home from visiting her mother and abruptly discovered that Irving had left with all his things—along with the TV, the DVR, the MP3 player, the blender, her crock pot, and some jewelry she had inherited from an aunt. At that point she wished she would have gone through with cutting every third stitch out of the seams holding his trousers together, a plan she had earlier considered after suspecting his infidelity.
Kaitlyn thought she and Irving had been happy. Now Irving is nowhere to be found. His work history involved a series of briefly held, part-time unskilled jobs. He has no immediate relatives. She feels he would be virtually impossible to track down.For the past year since Irving disappeared, Kaitlyn was forced to apply for public assistance and compelled to undergo some job training aimed at placement in a food service setting. She had recently gotten a minimum wage job for 35 hours a week as a cook at Boogie’s Burger Heaven. The job would be subsidized by state TANF funds for the next year. (The intent of such subsidy is to encourage businesses to hire TANF recipients, as what actually came out of the business’ pockets to pay employees is considerably less than minimum wage.) Boogie’s does not provide health insurance for its employees.
Kaitlyn enjoys her work and her fellow employees. She feels proud of getting back on her feet again and becoming independent. However, there are a few issues about which she has nagging concerns:
First, she has to work a lot of nights. Her children attend a publicly funded daycare center, but it closes at 8:00 p.m. Sometimes, she’s scheduled to work two nights a week until midnight. She then must impose on her neighbors or her mother to baby-sit. Her mother has arthritis and chronic bronchial problems so finds it difficult to help out.
A second issue is that Shannon finds daycare really boring and is beginning to manifest some behavioral problems when she’s there. Daycare staff have started to threaten Kaitlyn that if Shannon doesn’t “shape up,” they’ll expel her.
A third concern is that Shane has been diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, “a neurological disorder beginning in childhood … in which stereotyped motor movements (tics) are accompanied by multiple vocal outbursts that may include grunting or barking noises or socially inappropriate words or statements” (Hallahan & Kauffman, 2006, p. 256). Although daycare staff and baby-sitting neighbors tend to like Shane and tolerate his increasingly inappropriate and uncontrollable behavior, Kaitlyn thinks they’re beginning to tire of it. Meanwhile, Kaitlyn is working with medical specialists to administer, monitor, and adapt medications to help control Shane’s tics and outbursts. She has been told this will be a lifelong process.
A fourth issue is that Sean is not yet toilet trained. Kaitlyn finds it impossible to maintain consistency when she is at work so often and he is in the care of so many different people.
Finally, although Kaitlyn likes her job, she aspires to something that would provide her with a better future. She would like to get her GED (general education development, general education diploma, or high school equivalency). Ideally, she would prefer to work in a professional office, perhaps as an optometrist’s assistant or doing something with computers.

1. In what ways is TANF helping Kaitlyn and her family survive?
2. In what ways is TANF limiting Kaitlyn’s ability to attain her and her family’s optimal health and well-being?
3. What do you see as Kaitlyn’s future problems in view of TANF’s restrictions?
4. In what ways might public assistance help Kaitlyn become more independent and improve her and her family’s health, well-being, and quality of life?

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