Leaving the Welfare Rolls: The Health and Mental Health Issues of Current and Former Welfare Recipients

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welfare reform, mental health, health, mail survey

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This paper summarizes the mail survey findings of 1,634 respondents examining the impact of welfare reform, namely the Work and Gain Economic Self Sufficiency (WAGES) program, in two urban areas of Florida. The health and mental health status, quality of life, and service needs of adults and children who had left WAGES were compared with those of current recipients. Findings indicate that 60% of the respondents had left WAGES during a 14-month period. Compared to former WAGES recipients, current recipients reported significantly poorer health and mental health status. Additionally, the children of current recipients had significantly greater health needs compared to those of former WAGES recipients. Although no group difference existed regarding the children's mental health status, the percentage of children scoring above the criterion suggesting a need for further psychosocial evaluation was twice the rate that would be expected in a general pediatric sample. Transportation was the only service need in which a significant group difference was found, with current recipients reporting significantly greater need compared to former recipients. Compared to former WAGES recipients, current recipients reported significantly lower levels of satisfaction with their leisure opportunities, employment or educational status, financial condition, legal and safety, family's health, and with their overall quality of their lives.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Mental Health Services Research, v. 3, issue 3, p. 119–128