TANF in the United States

Essay by nenanenaUniversity, Bachelor'sA, January 2008

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In the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, social welfare in the United States tended to be operated mostly by private and religious organizations. The original concepts of social welfare were based upon protestant ethics along with liberal values. It was believed that only people of "weak character" could become poverty stricken. At this time, the American ideal was to be a "self made man", meaning that a person was able to succeed by living independently and not looking for help from anyone (Zeylmans, 2007, para. 3). During this time, people relied on the concept of neighborhood assistance, meaning that people would rely on people they knew as well as on their families, neighbors, and others in the community (Zeylmans, 2007). Most of the private and religious organizations' attitudes were held against state run welfare programs. They claimed individual help with goods to be much more effective than financial help from the government (Zeylmans, 2007).

In 1935, the Social Security Act was implemented for the first time and it was done under Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. When Social Security Act was first introduced, it was an emergency program for people who suffered from the effects of the Great Depression (Zeylmans, 2007). However, soon after the implementation, it became the basis of the federal welfare system. The three major provisions covered under the Social Security Act included a national contributory old age insurance which is federally required, state-run unemployment insurance and federally subsidized public assistance (Zeylmans, 2007).

Public assistance programs already existed in certain states in the early 1930s. Assistance for the elderly poor and for dependent children was the most important of these programs. Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) became the most important program, and it was organized and financed by the states and communities...