The federal and state governments initiated numerous healthcare systems to ensure that all American citizens had basic necessities such as food and schooling. The bulk of these services are only open to citizens who follow the qualifying requirements, which are based on considerations such as residence, age, disability, salary, and household size. Individuals who meet the eligibility criteria are entitled to the same basic protections in both state and federally controlled public assistance services. The program equally focuses on aspects of Medicaid, general relief assistance, and chronic and acute assistance. Residents who qualify for a program have a right to due process, which implies the right to receive forms of application and receive the benefits with the stipulated time for each program. While all states have the same type of federal aid, qualification criteria and specific amount given varies from one state to another. Currently, the state of Alaska has the highest number of people under public welfare assistance programs. In addition, Arizona equally offers the welfare program to the people. The two states are being compared because of the fact that they both engage in the assistance program.
Keywords: welfare benefit, temporary assistance program, federal aid, household.
Comparison of Welfare Benefits in Alaska and Arizona
The states of Alaska and Arizona stand out with regard to the welfare programs they run. However, there are notable similarities and differences between welfare programs in the two states. In both states, the federal government provides for the needy using five major programs: Medicaid, Temporary Assistance Program, General Relief Assistance, Chronic and Acute Medical Assistance, and Adult Public Assistance. The programs help Americans through various channels and agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration. Residents who qualify for the program have a right to due process, which implies the right to receive forms of application and receive the benefits with the stipulated time for each program. The current reforms on welfare ensure that eligible candidates have a right to be notified of changes in programs and to a fair hearing in case the Division of Public Assistance takes action, without an agreement with the recipient. Differences also exist in both States, Arizona and Alaska such as the funds given to beneficiaries, eligibility requirements and the number of state-funded programs.
Health Benefits in Alaska
Out of the need to ensure that all citizens have access to basic needs, the Federal Government created a transfer program to make sure all people have access to food, shelter, and healthcare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). In Alaska, this program is known as Alaska Temporary Assistance Program (ATAP), which assists individuals with a low income with the state and national governments allocations for children’s medical bills among other relief assistance. The federal program serves four purposes: to assist needy families’ access relief, prevent and minimize out-of-wedlock pregnancies, encourage the formation of two-parent households, and promote job preparations, work, and marriage as a way of reducing dependency. The federal program does not allow residents to acquire public support for more than 60 months. However people who reside in remote homes, where unemployment affects more than half of the adults, are exempted from time limitations. To qualify for ATAP, one must be a resident of Alaska, have children below 19 years of age, be pregnant, low-income level, or soon-to-be employed. According to the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (2015), temporary-basis assistance helps families find work and, which then urges participants to life skills. Recipients are required to find employment within 24 months after receiving their first benefits, and individuals who fail to develop workable family sufficiency plans are penalized.
In addition to the ATAP, there are several other welfare benefits Alaskan residents can qualify for. The most common are the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the School Breakfast Program (SBP), and the Alaska Weatherization Assistance Program (AWAP). Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program assists people in low-income households with home energy bills by meeting the costs. The Federal Government funds the LIHEAP project, thus helping residents stay warm during the cold winter months. In addition, the Alaska Weatherization Assistance Program helps insulate homes for low-income people. The project targets the elderly, individuals with disabilities, residential high-energy consumers, households with unbearable energy bills, and families with children. It is implemented as a means to conserve energy and to assist residents with insufficient means to pay for high utility costs.
Thus, reduce risks of health and safety problems, such as illness and eviction. To qualify for this program, one must be in dire need of financial assistance relating to energy costs. It offers bill payment assistance, weatherization, energy-related repairs, and energy crisis assistance.
The School Breakfast Welfare Program is a non-profit breakfast fund given to schools and domestic healthcare institutions to access breakfast. The US Department of Agriculture (USAID) Food and Nutrition Services at the federal level administers it. The federal educational branches monitor this program at the state level, while rural school feeding authorities regulate it in learning institutions. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally-funded meal assistance program that provides nutritional balanced and low-cost lunches to all children in day schools. The welfare gets funds from the federal government and operates in public, non-profit private schools, and residential childcare institutions.
Comparison of Welfare Benefit Programs in Alaska and Arizona
Both Arizona and Alaska have implemented Temporary Assistance Programs to help needy people meet basic needs. In particular, the focus is to ensure efficiency in service delivery. In both states, the program is designed to offer cash assistance to low-income families with children in order to help the families to achieve self-sufficiency. Recipients of temporary cash benefits in Alaska and Arizona have a 60-month benefit limit. Furthermore, both states have established differentiation measures between adults and children, where a child getting TANF benefits can receive another 60 months as an adult. Other than cash assistance, there are other standard advantages in both states, such as Medicaid and Summer Food Service.
Table 1. Income requirements for acceptance into head start
To promote school readiness of children below the age of five, Alaska and Arizona have adopted the Head Start Federal Welfare Program. This benefit is given to children from low-income families as a way of developing their memory capacity, and social/emotional enhancement. Head Start ensures there is a proper learning atmosphere that encourages child growth in areas such as literacy and language. This program was designed to help create meaningful child-parent relationships and to ensure there is a good family well-being. Additionally, the program in both states helps toddlers, infants, and pregnant women living below the federal poverty line access a decent life. The program can enroll a maximum of ten-percent of children from households that live below the poverty line and can serve up to thirty-five percent of additional children from families whose income exceeds the poverty threshold. Nevertheless, both Arizona and Alaska have limited access to funding for the programs, and there may be insufficient space to take care of all eligible children. While the Head Start Welfare Program is administered in similar ways in both states, there are notable differences in qualification requirements and the amount paid per year, as demonstrated in table 1. These figures indicate that the maximum Head Start Benefit in Alaska is higher than that in Arizona.
According to statistics on welfare-benefits comparison in the US states by the Washington Post (2011), Alaska had 7,974 recipients on welfare benefits in 2007, while the number dropped to 7,316 in 2008. In Arizona, the numbers were 88,235 and 88,781, in 2007 and 2008, respectively. The rate of unemployed residents in Alaska was 6.2% in 2007, and 3.9% in Arizona the same year. The following year, the rates of unemployment in Alaska and Arizona increased to 7.2% and 6.1% respectively, indicating an addition of recipients of welfare benefits due to lack of a job. Furthermore, the number of food stamp recipients in Alaska by 2007 was 56,112, while in the following year, the number had increased by 3.5 percent. Similarly, Arizona experienced an increased number of food stamp beneficiaries from 2007 to 2008. A 21% increase from 606,973 to 734,403 people. The statistics are essential since they provide data on people who have been able to access relief assistance. Further, the information indicates the extent to which the food stamps have been able to impact on the people.
Increase in Rate of Employment
Food Stamp Recipients
The benefit programs launched by the state governments operate in similar, yet different, ways. Both the welfare programs in Alaska and in Arizona help residents with low income, disabilities, or other needy conditions to meet basic needs. The projects give finances to poor families with children. Both states revel in welfare benefits funded through the Federal Government. Other notable health plans in Alaska range from Low Income Home Energy Assistance, School Breakfast Program and the Alaska Weatherization Assistance Program. While Alaska offers cash benefits to only children for up to sixty months, Arizona extends the programs to some elderly persons as well. Overall, the adoption of the welfare programs by the states of Arizona and Alaska have been vital in uplifting the livelihood of people with a low income. Despite the differences that exist, both states have strived to ensure that people access relief to improve on their livelihoods. Thus, the welfare relief programs have been instrumental in boosting the living standards of people in both Arizona and Alaska.
Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. (2015). Public assistance. Women’s Legal Rights Handbook
Department of Education & Early Development. (2017). Alaska Head Start. Retrieved from https://www.benefits.gov/benefits/benefit-details/1896
Hopkins, Kyle (2016). Alaska has the highest rate of welfare recipients in the U.S., Census says. Alaska Dispatch News. Retrieved from https://www.adn.com/economy/article/alaska-has-highest-rate-welfare-recipients-us-census-says/2014/09/04/
Washington Post (2011). State-by-State Welfare Assistance. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/01/25/us/20090126-welfare-table.html?_r=0