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Abstracts from Volume 27, Number 4
(December, 2000)

A COMMUNITARIAN CRITIQUE OF THE CHILD PROTECTIVE SYSTEM
Toni Terling-Watt
Child Protective Services (CPS) has been defined as an ineffective system. Common criticisms are that the system is overburdened and that family preservation policy pressures CPS to reunite families that can't be repaired. However, empirical analyses that identify the deficiencies of this organization are limited. This study utilizes case files in-depth interviews with interventionists within and outside of CPS to explore the issue. Results reveal that the most common criticisms of the system do have merit. However, it reveals additional system limitations. Results suggest that the child protective system is characterized by an individualistic approach and that this focus hinders its ability to protect children. Specific problems associated with this individualistic focus are identified and a communitarian framework is proposed as a way of reconceptualizing CPS deficiencies and needed solutions.

ESTIMATING POVERTY RATES IN A METROPOLIS: THE EXAMPLE OF LOS ANGELES/LONG BEACH
Robert G. Mogull
This study develops a technique to estimate and project annual rates of poverty for a large metropolitan area for various segments of its population. The annual estimates and projections are based upon the official rates complied by the Bureau of the Census. Using Los Angeles/ Long Beach as the site of the experimental example, the evidence reveals a substantially increasing trend in the incidence of poverty for the overall metropolitan population. This increase is caused by the dramatic rise in poverty within the Hispanic and Children population groups. Trends in poverty are negative, however, for the the Elderly, Blacks, Female Family Heads and Whites. Explanations are offered for the disparate trends in poverty among the various groups. These explanations may serve as an agenda for future research. The Appendix to the study provides the annual estimates and projections for each population segment for the years 1959 through 2000.

JOB STABILITY AND WAGE PROGRESSION PATTERNS AMONG EARLY TANF LEAVERS
Steven G. Anderson, Anthony P. Halter, George Julnes, and Richard Schuldt
This article reports on first-year employment experiences of a randomly selected sample of 213 Illinois TANF leavers. Aggregate employment levels were 70 percent at exit, and leavers typically generated earnings from a single full-time job. However, employment often was unstable, so that only about one-fourth of leavers had the same job both at exit and when interviewed 10-11 months later. Employment instability resulted from the marginal or temporary nature of many jobs, as well as employment barriers such as health problems and lack of day care. Average wage levels easily exceeded the minimum wage and grew during the first year after exit, but nonetheless often were insufficient to provide incomes above the poverty level. The findings underscore the need to develop post-employment service strategies that assist persons in accessing work-related benefits such as child care and Medicaid, as well as improved income support strategies such as expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

WELFARE REFORM: A SOCIAL WORK PERSPECTIVE FOR ASSESSING SUCCESS
Dennis D. Long
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 has instituted major changes in providing for the poor in the United States. This article examines the importance of evaluating the impact of this legislation from a social work perspective. Using Mannheim as a theoretical orientation, welfare reform is examined in relation to dominant ideologies of the 90s. The salience of social work research, particularly qualitative research, in evaluating welfare reform outcomes is explored. Social workers are encouraged to challenge current ideology and utilize social work expertise to conduct research and disseminate information documenting the achievements and misfortunes of clients as a result of welfare reform.

THE IMPACT OF ECONOMIC STRUCTURAL ADJUSTMENT PROGRAMS [ESAPS] ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN: IMPLICATIONS FOR SOCIAL WELFARE IN ZIMBABWE
Saliwe M. Kawewe and Robert Dibie
This study examines the impact of structural adjustment policy (SAP) on the welfare of Zimbabweans, particularly women and children and draws some parallels with economic policy in the US and its effect on social welfare programs and the poor. The paper argues that economic structural adjustment programs (ESAPs), introduced by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as major international financial institutions in economic globalization, have been an inappropriate public policy for Zimbabwe. These economic reforms inflate poverty, decrease the country's capability to develop a strong diversified domestic economy, increase the exploitation of workers through deregulation accompanied by environmental degradation. ESAPs' devastation of the poor translates into recurrences of socioeconomic crises that threaten peace and social justice and compounded by natural calamities and the relentlessness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Human helping professionals like social workers are left to scramble for diminishing resources to meet the basic needs of more clients with less.

THE HIGHER EDUCATION OPTION FOR POOR WOMEN WITH CHILDREN
Shanta Pandey, Min Zhan, Susan Neely-Barnes and Natasha Menon
Postsecondary education is the key to exiting from poverty permanently. Yet, the PRWORA allows women only up to 12 months of vocational training while on welfare. This paper focuses on bringing back the importance of investing in the education of poor women, particularly the postsecondary education of poor women with children, to the forefront of the welfare debate. In this paper we review federal and state level welfare policies toward postsecondary education of poor women with children. Some states are interpreting federal welfare policy strictly and allowing only up to 12 months of vocational training while on welfare. Other states allow poor women attending postsecondary education to count class hours and homework hours toward the work participation requirement. Support services--childcare and transportation--to women attending college vary from state to state. Services for welfare mothers who wish to go on to college are severely inadequate. We argue that federal and state policies should be designed to encourage poor women to complete two-and four-year college degrees because education of women is associated with better economic and social returns for women, children, families and society at large. We propose that welfare policies should encourage women's college education by providing support services and stopping the five-years clock for those attending college. In addition, programs such as Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and AmeriCorps should be expanded to increase postsecondary education opportunities for poor women.

A DESCRIPTIVE ANALYSIS OF SKIN COLOR BIAS IN PUERTO RICO: ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS TO PRACTICE
Ronald E. Hall
Travel brochures to the island of Puerto Rico aptly profess the rich variation in skin color and other phenotypes among its people. Following acts of domination vis-a-vis the island's cultural mores, invading colonizers evolved a social hierarchy to discourage any notions of merit attributable to racial diversity. According to the data herewith, the presumption of a relationship between skin color and selected values for skin color ideals is plausible. Social work practitioners are then challenged to decipher the maze of racial traditions as pertains to discrimination. Doing so will enable an environment for knowledge based purely upon merit in order to resurrect indigenous knowledge about the biases of otherwise victim populations.

IS WELFARE REFORM WORKING? A STUDY OF THE EFFECTS OF SANCTIONS ON FAMILIES RECEIVING TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE TO NEEDY FAMILIES
Taryn Lindhorst, Ronald J. Mancoske and Alice Abel Kemp
This research provides a preliminary descriptive analysis of the impact of sanctioning on welfare recipients living in a southern metropolitan region. The data from this phone survey indicate that many families report considerable hardship no matter why they exited from welfare. Compared to those who left voluntarily, those who were sanctioned off welfare were significantly different in terms of having unmet medical needs, going without food, and having their utilities turned off. Given the high number of problems reported and the low income reported by these respondents, it is not surprising to find that only 10 percent of former recipients who were sanctioned off of welfare feel that they are better off now than when they received cash assistance. These problems can represent a significant disruption in the lives of children and their parents.

BOOK REVIEWS
Group Work with Children and Adolescents: Prevention and Intervention in School and Community Systems. Steven R. Rose.
Reviewed by Bart Grossman.

The Social Edges of Psychoanalysis. Neil J. Smelser.
Reviewed by Daniel Coleman.

Reading Foucalt for Social Work: Adrienne Chambon, Allan Irving and Laura Epstein (Eds).
Reviewed by Emilia E. Martinez-Brawely.

Social Work with Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals: A Strengths Perspective. Katherine van Wormer, Joel Wells and Mary Boes.
Reviewed by Ronald J. Mancoske.

Counseling and the Therapeutic State. James J. Chriss (Ed.).
Reviewed by Daniel Harkness.

BOOK NOTES
Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America. Paula S. Fass.

Adoption and Financial Assistance: Tools for Navigating the Bureaucracy. Rita Laws and Tim O' Hanlon.

Taking Stock: American Government in the Twentieth Century. Morton Keller and R. Shep Melnick (Eds.).

Policing Urban Poverty. Chris Crowther.

True Security: Rethinking American Social Insurance. Michael J. Graetz and Jerry L. Mashaw.

 

 

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