There is always some abuse of anything. (There are working people who fudge expense reports, bring home paper, etc.) Any abuse of any system needs to be addressed because it costs so much when multiplied by the number of people who take advantage.
At the same time, it is a mistake to assume that all parents with harship have done something to deserve it, are ignorant about money, or are lazy. Its also a mistake to try to make sure parents don't get their hands on cash and to believe that there's a way to make sure children are taken care of "around" their parents rather than through them.
Schools fail a large percentage of kids. So do parents much of the time. Some kids drop out of schools. Some graduate or even go to a mediocre school or training program after high school, but being able to earn enough money to create solid financial stability isn't always something even the most money-wise person is able to do. Sure, there are other ways of getting an income; but the person with a limited income that is being used to live on doesn't have money for things like investing.
So there are a "zillion" people who are earning ok-but-not-great incomes.
All it takes is a set-back to throw someone like this into poverty. The married couple who each earns a modest income that, combined, is ok enough may have a child but then get divorced. Nobody planned it. Maybe the guy was a little abusive. The mother is left with the child and the modest income. All it would take is a lay-off at her company to throw her into poverty, and she could be someone who works hard and manages her money well. She just may not have had time to build up savings and investments that would have given her security.
The couple with one working parent one at-home parent may be doing ok-enough, but there can be a lay-off. It could take the working person a couple of months to find work for one reason or another, and in that time the couple could have had to get into debt to keep up with their bills.
The older professional (like engineers) may have really difficulty finding work because the market may not need people with his education, but others may not hire him for lesser jobs because they believe he won't be satisfied there. They know he'll quit as soon as engineering work shows up. This person could be a 45-year-old father of two or three children.
There could be an elderly grandmother could lives on Social Security who finds herself taking in two or three grandchildren.
There any number of situations where good people who are good parents (or substitute parents) can find themselves suddenly out of a reasonably comfortable (although not wealthy) situation and into poverty regardless of their education, character or ability to make wise financial decisions. When lifes are turned upside down there is then the added complications that as a person watches his/her life unraval they get so stressed out they can become so emotionally and physically exhausted they actually may not be as effective in trying to overcome some things.
There is some program (WIC, I guess) that gives young mothers all kinds of food that a baby wouldn't even need - giant loads of cheese just because someone has a baby of any age!! The idea is that pregnant and nursing mothers should be assured good nutrition, but the bottle-feeding mother of an infant too little to eat giant loads of cheese doesn't need the cheese. She may actually need a few dollars to go get some make-up and a decent hair-cut for the job interview she has (which would get her off welfare and get her a normal-enough income on which to live).
One of the challenges for a person with hardship is to create the impression in children that life is normal. The is "money hardship" that parents can have, but if the parent has a middle-class mentality and tries not to allow the "money hardship" to leak over into the emotional lives of the family and become "emotional hardship" that parent can't have her/his hands tied by having spending money withheld and by having any assistance aimed to help the children bypass the parents, maybe get to the children, but maybe not be what that particular child needs at that particular time. I'm not talking about keeping up a middle-class family life by having cable television. I'm talking about being able to let a child sign up for the field trip in school or even go to a friend's birthday party and be able to bring a modest gift. I'm talking about letting children feel like they're normal and not from some horrible, poverty-stricken home where someone has decided that as long as you have lots of cheese that has to do. To do best by children is to do something that will encourage, enable, or even stop preventing parents from getting ahead; and doing something for the good parents that will let them then do what is needed to give their child a life that is at least normal.
I don't know how much time or resources welfare programs have to spend with recipients, but I would suspect that when people go to sign up it may be possible to get some reading on how responsible or caring or conscientious they may seem to be. Maybe there could be some way of monitoring certain cases where there seems to be something off about something, or maybe people could even be asked to show what they spent any cash on and some computer program could pick out anything that looked too bizarre and flag it for human review. There have to be ways of improving the situation of abuses of the system, but I don't think that automatically assuming parents are irresponsible and wouldn't do what is right with any money or anything else intended for their children is the way to go.
I have seen how state governments can come into a life that is otherwise fine (say, in a divorce situation) and make a giant mess. People need to figure out ways to stop court systems and schools from screwing up lives, and then maybe more people would graduate from architectural, engineering and law programs.
Most parents will do what is right for their children. It is normal and natural to want to make sure they have what they need, although sometimes welfare programs don't/can't acknowledge emotional needs such as feeling as if a child belongs among the friends at school who are going on the field trip.
It is true that the stressed out mother/father may feel as things are so much he or she may buy a package of cigarettes or the occasional bottle of wine just to be able to calm down a little in order not to be a stressed out lunatic who can't get things done for the family. Most parents wouldn't buy such "horrible" things, though, at the expense of their children. It is more likely that even though some person who is trying to live on a few hundred dollars a month and is pretty much in hell, she would buy food for her kids first and do without whatever it is that would help her feel more "regular". Once in a while (say, when she gets whatever check she gets) she may skim off some money to get those cigarettes or that one bottle of wine to keep in the house or even that hairspray she needs to keep her wild hair in line. Anyone who notices what she's spending on and who knows what she's living on will decide she is wasting government money.
There is the food stamps program in the US for children. There is WIC. There are other places a parent can get food (food pantries). Most of the time people in the US don't have to go hungry. There are WIC mothers who give away all that cheese to their neighbors because they know it will go to waste otherwise.
Man does not live by bread alone even when there is far more bread than the man will ever need. Abraham Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs (a set of human needs that are necessary not only for reaching potential but for just being ok, and it includes food, shelter, sense of belonging, etc.) is something governments shouldn't ignore when setting up welfare programs.
The public schools, government programs, and the courts don't create or contribute to ALL poverty, although they contribute in a large way across the board in general. Some poverty is "home-grown" (and by home I mean in the individual homes). Some is because people have left their homes (and sometimes professional licenses) in other countries to come here for one reason or another. Some is because people have severe physical or mental handicaps. Some is because people are elderly and had no great pension plan but may, for some reason, have their grandchildren with them. With the exception of the home-grown variety of poverty, the majority of people in the other groups want to do the right thing when it comes to money and children and lifestyle. Even among the people who are in home-grown poverty, some want to do what is right; but they don't know how.
If the people who decide on the policies of court systems and welfare programs and schools had a better and more indepth understanding of what it takes to raise a well adjusted child who can get the education needed to earn sufficient money I am convinced that a large percentage of poverty would be eliminated and/or prevented. The people in The System, though, only look outward to try to find the causes of poverty, and because that's not where so many of the causes are they aren't finding them!!
If anyone wants to do what is right by children they will do what it takes to either stop contributing to the poverty of their parents or else do what is necessary to really help parents work and become independent when they are in severe hardship. The government cannot take care of each and every child nor can private charities nor should either of these attempt to do so. It is the parents' right and responsibility to take care of their own children, and it is up to anyone who wants to see that happen do what it takes to stop having parents' hands tied and give them the autonomy and flexibility they need to provide for ALL of the needs of their children - not just food. Further, the child who knows his mother lives on charity or welfare is very likely to feel very different, very inferior, very resentful, and maybe very angry in addition to not having his/her needs met.
When children's needs aren't being met it usually shows up in places such as the pediatrician's office or the school or the neighborhood. If such a thing shows up then it may be time for someone connected with some welfare program to pay a visit. If it doesn't then nobody should be worrying about whether a mother spent five dollars on junk food at the carnival for her children or on disposable diapers or on cereal and milk. Chances are she'll make sure her children eat.
Many people probably stay away from welfare programs because they know that once someone is involved in such a program it is very difficult to get oneself out of that quagmire. People who have had no choice probably sign on because they need a roof over their heads and food for the kids. Those are the options the person with children has when unemployment goes on too long or when a job pays too little and has no health insurance or when child-care costs are too high and a parent doesn't trust any "welfare child-care" situations that may be available (because another thing about the hardship situation is that everywhere anyone goes that's involved with welfare-related programs they meet people who may not have raised particularly desirable kids, probably because those kids haven't had their needs met).
There are parents out there who will, even if they're given money, neglect their children for some reason; but there are also parents with their own money who will neglect children. They are not the majority, and the problem is not about what they do with money but what they won't do for their children. It is a separate issue and should be dealt with.
The majority of parents do the very natural thing of taking care of their babies and children; and, yes, that may even mean eating pasta for too many meals to be able to give a daughter a new prom gown like the other girls have. That's nobody's business.
If people want to help children they'll respect their parents and give them credit for most likely doing what is right for their child at the time. If welfare programs and other government entities had a shred of belief in human potential and innate ability to know what is needed for their children (most of the time) welfare would more likely become a very temporary thing used just to get someone out of a crisis. Instead, court systems can make such a mess in a family's life one divorce can cost a state millions (truly millions) of dollars over the course of, say, ten years following a divorce (and that isn't even in direct welfare payments but may instead be in things like subsidized health insurance, free attorneys, counselors for the kids when the court screws up, etc.).
Although not always, there are times when the parents ARE the innocents as well. If you hurt the parents you hurt the children. With the vast, vast, amount of waste that goes on now with tax dollars it seems to me that a reorganized, more educated, welfare system would save so much money it could actually afford to risk some minimal level of abuse by a minority of people.
Answered By: WhiteLilac1 - 9/12/2006