Focus on breaking the cycle. We’ve all heard of, an in many cases seen, families in which the kids grew up on welfare, hit adulthood, and ended up on welfare. That’s not okay. It is really not okay!
So much wasted potential there. For me, it’s less about the cost, more about the potential.
But as much as people bitch and moan about the cost and about the lazy ingrates blah blah blah …. we – our society – contribute to the whole thing.
We worry that if we give people on welfare enough to actually live on, they’ll be content on welfare and will never want to go to work – so we make sure that families on welfare don’t ever have enough. Enough food, enough shelter, enough resources to do things…
and then to make things worse, we under-fund our public schools, and that means that kids whose families don’t have enough resources are even more stigmatized, ostracized, left out….. and then we’re surprised that they don’t tend to aspire to higher things for themselves? Duh! How freaking stupid are we?
The adults who have been on welfare for years and years, especially those who are themselves the products of such upbringing … there’s probably nothing much we can do about those beyond treating them with respect and encouraging and supporting those who are motivated to break free to do that…
but damn it all to hell and back, we have got to be putting resources and attention towards their kids. It’s a no-brainer!!!
Provide schools with funding for their field trips, school supplies, music & art opportunities, etc etc
Make sure teachers are trained and capable of encouraging the children they work with – all of them, especially those coming from families with limited resources – to imagine and to expect to become productive adults. This does not happen across the board right now; in fact, in some schools, the poor kids are basically regarded as a waste of time & energy. SO not okay.
Find some people with skills among those groups we’re going to run and give them the opportunity to provide enrichment activities and classroom support and yes, here I go again – PAY them for doing it.
Oh, and all those corporations that want to worm their way into schools on one pretence or another so that they can sell things? Let them in – but only in ways that promote the development of the expectation that all the kids – those with learning disabilities, those from impoverished homes, those with physical challenges, etc etc…ALL the kids … are going to grow up to become productive contributing respected members of society.
Mentoring, job-shadowing, entrepreneurial programs – definitely….. and no kid should EVER be left out of these things or disadvantaged because their family can’t afford fees, transportation, proper clothing, etc….
Oh, and a change of attitude re: secondary school students that work, too… schools should be supporting and encouraging those kids, not making it harder for them or punishing them. Again, duh.
Sure, to really have such programs available across the board, and to make sure that every child was able to participate on an equal footing would cost money. But if investing in their education and mentoring ensured that a much higher percentage of them would grow up to not follow in their parents’ footsteps we would be saving in the long run, in breaking the cycle? One last time. DUH!