Nonetheless, contrary to the image of "welfare families" who live in poverty because they are unwilling to work and want only to be funded by government programs, most children who live in low-income and poor families have either one or two parents who are employed full-time (NCCP "Low-Income Children" 1). Thus, 56 percent of all children in low-income families - 14.6 million - have at least one parent who works full-time year-round (NCCP "Basic Facts" 1). Twenty-eight percent of children in low-income families have at least one parent who works part-time or full-time at least part of the year (NCCP "Basic Facts" 1). Only 16 percent of low income families with children - 4.2 million - do not have a working parent (NCCP "Low-Income Children" 1). The problem, therefore, is not so much that these children live in families with parents who choose not to work, but that their parents work in jobs that do not pay a wage above poverty and low-income levels.
One reason why parents work in poverty and low-income level employment is simply that they do not have the education and training to get higher paying jobs. Twenty-six percent of children in low-income families 6.9 million live with parents who have not completed high school (NCCP "Basic Facts" 1). Thirty-six percent of low-income children - 9.6 million have parents who have only completed high school, and the parents of thirty-nine percent of such children have education beyond the high-school level (NCCP "Basic Facts" 1).
Research has demonstrated that the children of welfare recipients who become employed experience improved well-being due to increased household income and the parents' improved self-esteem (Cherlin 1). In particular, such studies have found that children in families who move from welfare as the sole income source for the family to a combination of welfare and income from employment demonstrate reduced behavioral problems, including a reduction in school expuls...
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