Welfare has been and always will be an important issue in America. The basic premise of welfare is to tax the wealthier segments of society to aid the poorer segments. Most industrialized countries, meaning non-third world countries, have some form of welfare system in place. The general theory is to ensure that the less fortunate have their basic needs met, which will decrease criminal activity and civil unrest. However, welfare in America is going in the wrong direction by over generalizing entitlements nationwide, rather than by assessing communities, worker skill levels of individual welfare recipients, and family circumstances. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) is intended to remove families from the welfare system through a five-year time limit on cash assistance and a requirement for adults to participate in work activities to maintain eligibility (Coulton 159).
Community-based programs are critical to operating an efficient welfare system, but there is not enough information on the adequacy of community-based services. Claudia Coulton published an article in the Social Service Review titled "Metropolitan states Inequities and the Ecology of Work: Implications for Welfare Reform." In this article, Coulton concludes that "such information [on community-based services] is vital to ensure that responsibilities at the community level are met and that no child or family slips through cracks in the system" (2). New policies must be introduced to adequately track the distribution of entitlements to better trend and identify problem areas. For example, Lawrence Mead, author of "Welfare Caseload Change: An Alternative Approach," gives an "Analysis of Chicago neighborhoods documents the growing isolation of the urban poor and concludes that social processes in extremely poor neighborhoods undermine employment" (3). Yet, in this study there was no additional research performed to identify the social processes in order for them to be addressed.