By Mariela Quintana
As the repercussions of the recession become increasingly palpable nationwide, many states – including Washington, South Carolina, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Rhode Island among others – are slashing funding for family assistance and family health programs to close deficits. As a result, the most underserved families in these states will face drastic reductions in the already limited social services they receive – including Medicaid, family assistance and domestic violence support.
According to a recent in article in Business Week, however, the cuts in social welfare programs will more severely affect women than men. A Census poll indicates that nationally 54% of all poor people are women, meaning that they are likely to receive welfare and are more likely to be impacted by these cuts.
This trend is even more extreme in California – the nation’s most populous state – where 78% of welfare recipients are women. Unfortunately, if unsurprisingly, many of these women are young, single mothers caring for several children. Welfare grants in the state are expected to decline by 8% – reducing a family’s monthly income to $762 from $828 for a family of four. Families will now only receive funding for four years as opposed to five as has been the program’s duration in the past. Worse still, Arizona is offering families only two years of welfare benefits as opposed to three.
As the deadline for Supercommittee on Deficit Reduction’s proposals draws near, the recent cuts in family assistance and health programs for low-income families in California and Arizona among others bodes ominously for the rest of the nation. As advocates of many low-income single mothers, BYMC is well aware of the challenges these women are already facing in New York. Reducing services they depend is no method of recession relief.