Potential changes to the U.S. welfare program starts with the issue of maintaining a federal safety net as paramount in the focus to reform the current welfare system. The real problem is the perception of current programs as encouraging dependency on welfare and the dissolution of the family. In fact, current federal guidelines provide the working poor with the least assistance for childcare, and numerous tax subsidies and entitlements should be accessed before such programs are cut for families with low income. The most important thing government may do for these impoverished families is keep them from falling further behind the curve with work-oriented measures like childcare, subsidized insurance, minimum wage changes, and the EITC.
Time limits will likely be only an encumbrance on escaping cyclic dependence on welfare. Current proposals permit states to determine their own AFDC time limits, excluding people collecting more than five years. Although individuals are likely to work more under the threat of benefit cutoff, in short term states are responsible for increases to the caseload from a recession or change in demographics as well as expenditures for filling jobs. A more critical issue is recipients who lose all eligibility for welfare, because very few who lose eligibility will be able to find employment.
Preventing dependency on welfare is a growing concern for many who believe it deserves more attention. This means giving focus to the decrease in unskilled job prospects, particularly for men, and gross deficits in the educational system. However, two problems closely linked to welfare dependency are an increase of unwed childbearing and insufficient support from fathers with children on AFDC. Although, there is little correlation between the generosity of the welfare system and unwed birth rate, research indicates early childbearing is often a precursor of future poverty and welfare dependency.