The Legacy We Advocate For.
Our work is not done until poverty ceases to exist. One person at a time,
we can and must uplift the unacceptable condition of our nation.
As of the 2021 census data, 11.6% of Americans suffer from poverty in their day-to-day life. That is 37.9 million people (about twice the population of New York). This is a stark difference to the over half of the population in poverty in 1935 (64.9%) when former President Roosevelt signed into effect a welfare program to aid families suffering from poverty. Throughout the years, the welfare system in America has seen many changes to try to better support those affected by poverty. These changes have had an obvious effect on the American people, as our poverty rate has consistently declined, but there is still work to be done to eradicate poverty from our streets. The purpose of this page is to provide a brief history of welfare systems in America so we can better understand how welfare has changed in our country.
Former President Roosevelt was the first to create a welfare program in the United States through the Social Security Act in 1935, in the middle of the Great Depression. This act provided benefits for people in need such as the elderly, people with disabilities, and dependent mothers and children. One of the programs authorized in this act was Aid to Families of Dependent Children (AFDC). This program provided indefinite financial support to families in need to ensure American children were taken care of. Although, AFDC failed to create the necessary support for afflicted families to move out of poverty. There was no way for them to transition out of poverty and into multi-generational self-sufficiency.
In 1996, the Federal Government, under former President Bill Clinton, changed the welfare program in America with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (Welfare Reform Law) that emphasized the responsibility of the private sector. One act of the new program was Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF). This act provides temporary support to families in need but is also contingent upon an attempt of the recipient to re-enter the workforce. Now welfare was no longer just focused on providing for those affected by poverty, it was also attempting to transition people out of poverty into a life of self-sufficiency. These changes were the first step to a more holistic approach to solving the issue of poverty in America.
Although, these new legislations were far from being perfect. Despite the admirable goal of transitioning people out of poverty, there was much to be wanted in the workforce department. How would those affected by poverty be able to apply for and secure work when they may have never done so before? What about stigmas or assumptions businesses had about those who had been affected by poverty? Would childcare or transportation be available to working parents? These are only a few of the questions that surrounded this reform.
It is from these questions that the Welfare to Work Partnership of 1997 was formed. It started out with five companies: Burger King, Monsanto, Sprint, United Airlines and UPS. It was an effort by the private sector to bridge the gap between former President Clinton’s Welfare Reform and those who needed to reenter the workforce. The Partnership interacted with federal, state, and local governments to provide innovative workforce solutions so businesses could hire, retain, and promote the hiring of welfare recipients and other unemployed workers.
Through research, community collaborations, and employer engagement, this system provided innovative workforce solutions for U.S. companies of all sizes and industries to successfully hire, retain, and promote welfare recipients and other unemployed and low-income workers. The national initiative recruited more than 20,000 committed businesses including 65 of the Fortune 100. Leading many of the initiatives that resulted in employer engagement, Mr. Carroll served as an executive on loan from 1998 until 2006, when Business Interface was formed. Business Interface’s employment model evolved out of research conducted by the Partnership on best practices and workforce solutions for employing the economically disabled. To learn more contact us.