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Now, 35 percent of children live in single-parent households.But while the numbers are growing, the amount of help available to single mothers is not.Ever since the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Law (generally referred to as welfare reform) placed time limits and work requirements on benefits in an effort to get welfare recipients back into the workforce, single-parent families have had a harder time receiving government benefits.Some states have made it more difficult for low-income single-parent families to get other types of assistance too, such as imposing work requirements and other barriers for food stamps.In nearby counties, three-quarters of eligible women were enrolled in WIC; in Syracuse, fewer than half were.Morrisey found that women in Syracuse had created their own social networks that sometimes provided what they could get from WIC, but with a lot less hassle.She asks her parents and grandmother to watch her kids when she’s working her minimum-wage job at the grocery store, and sometimes her older children help out, too.The help is necessary, especially since the jobs available to Davis, who has a GED, mostly pay minimum wage.“You’re not going to get far working at Burger King,” she told me.

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Single-parent households (which by and large are headed by women) have more than tripled as a share of American households since 1960.

“There was never any evidence that was the case.”The lack of good, steady jobs makes it clear why single mothers rely on “packaging strategies,” as Seefeldt and Sandstrom term them.



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