Poverty in America is a growing issue, especially in today’s economy. Poverty is not just those that are unemployed or unable to work. Families with jobs are living in poverty as well. Though there may be money coming into the home, those families living in poverty often have to decide whether to pay bills, or buy food and clothing. Without the assistance of human services, these families would not be able to afford food, shelter, or clothing. Yet, despite the endless work of human services, poverty in America continues to rise.
The government standard for determining poverty has remained the same since 1960. The government multiplied the amount of income that went to providing food by three. During that time, the amount of income spent on food was one-third. Today, money spent on food alone accounts for one-seventh a family’s income. Government standards do raise the poverty level annually due to inflation of food prices, but do not consider any other inflation such as: medical costs, fuel, childcare, or rising mortgage and rent. This leaves the standard for poverty not only outdated, but grossly inaccurate (NCCP, Measuring Poverty in the United States, 2008).
There are a number of programs supported by the government that aid those who live below the poverty level. A family can apply for food stamps, which is a monthly allowance determined by number of family members and income, to spend specifically on food. The Fannie Mae Foundation is a housing lender that receives grants from the government to lower mortgage rates so that middle and low income families can afford a home to live in (Fannie Mae Foundation, n.d.). Section 8 housing is available to low income families. This program provides apartments to families with low income. The program will either pay a portion or all of the families rent, depending on how much income is made. WIC is a program to help provide mothers and children with the recommended portions of dairy. A family will receive vouchers for dairy products such as milk, eggs, and cheese.
Though you may not realize it, you probably know one person that lives in poverty. The other America.
As a Human Service worker, your mission should be to advocate for the needs of those that cannot provide for themselves. Human Services is there to represent the needs of the people to the government. Today, however, human services seems to represent the government’s standards to the people.
As a Human service worker, you should be concerned with a multitude of angles that are all under poverty. There may be other issues that are preventing a client from obtaining a job. Their may be a medical condition that prevents the client from working, lack of childcare or transportation (NKCAC, 2009). These obstacles may make a client’s emotional well being suffer. Therefore, a social worker may need to address these other concerns before being able to successfully match a client with a job that will help start them on their way out of poverty.
There are organizations that are dedicated to helping those currently living in poverty. These organizations fight for laws to be changed to better enable them to serve the people. They are dedicated to making sure that those that need help, have a voice to ask for it. The National Center for Children in Poverty is an advocacy program that provides financial and emotional programs for families with children in poverty. The Community Action Center is also a program that advocates for the needy.
Children are some of the most common victims of poverty. It is also more likely for a child who grows up in poverty to continue the cycle due to a poor education.
Funding cuts for government assistance has continued to rise. This has made it more difficult for human services to provide the necessary programs to assist those who need help. In today’s economical decline, these programs are even more direly needed.
While Human Services is dedicated to the health and well being of the people, there are obstacles they must face. One of these is an outdated standard for determining poverty. If a family's income before taxes is the requirement for determining eligibility for assistance, a family may not get the proper assistance. Then, the more income a family makes, the less assistance they receive. If a family is barely able to make all their bills, when government assistance is helping pay a portion of it, such as section 8 rent and utility assistance, any extra money they make would be making up for the assistance they are losing instead of putting them ahead. Even when minimum wage is raised to $7.25 in June 2009, a family’s annual income will amount to $15,080. The poverty level for a family of three is $16,079. It is near impossible for a family to overcome poverty working forty hours a week, fifty-two weeks a year and still be left $1,000 below the poverty level (Community Action Kentucky, 2008). The families that survive on minimum wage are able to seek assistance, however, they are still being cheated out of the amount of assistance that is really needed. Government programs such as food stamps and welfare, add all income that a family has before taxes are taken out. This results in the recorded amount of income being higher than what the family actually receives. Added to an already inflated record of income that any increase in income needs to be reported, and with each increase their level of assistance lowers (, it is no wonder why the cycle of poverty cannot be broken.Families that live in poverty often cut short their education due to lack of transportation or school materials. Even those that received their education and graduated from college thirty years ago, are finding the need to be reeducated. The vast growth of technology has left those that graduated thirty or more years ago in need of classes to help them learn how to use the advancements in technology. High tech jobs are now being given to students freshly out of college because they are familiar with and have been trained to use the latest advancements in technology, Whereas older employees have not had the opportunity of becoming familiar with these advancements (Community Action Kentucky, 2008).
While poverty is indiscriminate and can affect anyone, the most likely to be affected are: immigrants, children, and the handicapped.
In order to even begin toeradicate poverty, the standards need to reflect the times. All prices have inflated, not just food. The poverty level should include these inflations as well. Either minimum wage should be high enough that the annual income, after taxes, for a family is the same as the poverty level; or the poverty level should be lowered to the amount equal to the annual salary of minimum wage after taxes. If both of these are kept the same, a family living off of minimum wage will probably never make it out of poverty when their annual salary is a thousand dollars below the poverty level already, and that’s still before taxes are taken out. Which leaves them even further below the poverty level. As a human service worker, it would be part of my responsibility to advocate these changes (Community Action Kentucky, 2008).
Poverty In America
The Cycle of Poverty in America<br />Axia campus at University of Phoenix<br />Jocelyn Besse<br />February 27, 2009<br />
Government Standard for Poverty<br />The standard for poverty is out dated.<br />The amount of income spent on food has more than doubled.<br />All other living expenses have inflated as well, not just the cost of feeding a family.<br />
Government Assistance Programs<br />Food Stamps<br />Fannie Mae Foundation<br />Welfare<br />Section 8 housing<br />WIC<br />
Advocates for Social Justice<br />The mission of early social workers was to speak up for those who could not stand up for themselves.<br />Today’s social workers are more institutionalized.<br />Human services should focus more on representing the people, instead of the government.<br />
Concerns of Human Service Workers<br />Clients with medical issues.<br />Individuals emotional well being.<br />Reliable transportation for client to and from work.<br />Childcare available for client.<br />
Organizations Fighting Against Poverty<br />National Center for Children in Poverty<br />Community Action Center<br />
Concerns for Human Services Industry<br />The government continues to cut programs and funding the Human Services need to provide the sufficient help.<br />Without the proper programs, the issues such as poverty, will continue to become more overwhelming.<br />Today’s economy needs programs provided by human services.<br />
Barriers to Ending Poverty<br />Standards for determining Poverty levels have not changed since 1960.<br />Reported incomes are inaccurate.<br />An annual salary at minimum wage does not even meet the poverty level.<br />Lack of or now inadequate education.<br />
Applying Knowledge<br />The standards for poverty need to be updated.<br /> Minimum wage needs to be raised so an annual income is at least equal to the current poverty level, after taxes.<br />The poverty level could be lowered to meet the annual income after taxes.<br />
References<br />Minimum Wage Rates. 2009. U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved February 1, 2009 at http://www.dol.gov/esa/minwage/america.htm#Kentucky<br />Some Facts about Poverty in Northern Kentucky. 2006. Northern Kentucky Community Action Center. Retrieved February 1, 2009 at http://www.nkcac.org/newsroom/pverty-facts.htm<br />Fannie Mae Foundation. http://www.fanniemae.com/housingcommdev/solutions/index.jhtml?p=Affordable+Housing+%26+Community+Development&s=Affordable+Housing+Solutions<br />Community Action Kentucky. 2008. Poverty in Kentucky. Retrieved January 18, 2009, from http://www.kaca.org/PovertyinKentucky/PovertyOutlook/tabid/444/Default.aspx<br />