Survey Finds Support for Welfare Reform


An overwhelming majority of the public also thinks the government should offer the health, child care and transportation services that will make the transition from public assistance into work more successful. But less than half of those surveyed in a poll commissioned by the Kellogg Foundation were willing to pay higher taxes for additional services for the poor.

In the poll of 3400 households across the country, 69% believed single mothers should work even if they have children at home, and 63% say people moving from welfare to work should take whatever jobs they can get.

But respondents also say the government should provide plenty of assistance: 94% said the government should help those on welfare find jobs. The vast majority also believed the government should provide health insurance and child care. Respondents said the government should also extend its web of child care services and health insurance coverage beyond the pool of welfare recipients to include the working poor.

But as other surveys have consistently shown, Americans do not want to pay higher taxes for increased services for the poor. An overwhelming number of those surveyed, 86%, said they believe the federal budget, if spent wisely, is large enough to provide assistance to the needy.

The survey also found the majority of respondents oppose some aspects of current welfare policy. Most of those surveyed say the government should support welfare recipients who are completing high school or studying for their GED. They also say welfare recipients should have time to train for jobs that will keep them off public assistance.

Although the federal and state welfare plans generally encourage teenage parents to continue their education, they require most adult recipients to move into jobs as quickly as possible. Vocational training is limited.

An overwhelming number of respondents, 77%, also supported extending public assistance to legal immigrants. Although the federal welfare law initially denied most benefits to legal immigrants, it later restored aid to some. In contrast, most states have continued to support legal immigrants.


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