SPA-362 Reflection



Final Reflection:

This year was the year I most effectively transitioned my leadership skills from the classroom to the workspace. For the last year and a half I have been employed at American Oversight, an organization based on oversight and accountability. While I am in a lower level position, the leadership class has allowed me to employ several skills I learned throughout my time in SPAL, including the different forms of leadership, office decorum, and other stuff like that. I am confident that SPA Leadership has had a crucial affect on how I learned all of these lessons, and am incredibly grateful and happy for my experience within the program.


Essentially, my research project over the last year has focused heavily on the welfare system. My research question was “How can we increase welfare accessibility in Washington DC?”. Essentially my findings throughout the year has to be that the best way to increase accessibility is to talk to people directly, get people the knowledge they need to get themselves access to welfare. This is ignoring the fact that the entire welfare system desperately needs reforms and increased funding, but I can’t affect that, so I focused on small projects.


Question: What are some ways to increase accessibility to public welfare programs?


Current research is showing that the welfare system has become far too focused on what researchers call the “Deserving Poor”, also known as people with disabilities, or the elderly. People outside these groups have received minimal welfare support, or none at all. (Moffitt)

Research has also shown that people in minority groups, such as immigrants, are less likely to be on food stamps and other welfare rolls compared to “native” groups. The research has shown that even different groups in equal income groups follow this pattern. (Twersky)

As well as this, much of the research done in the last few decades has shown that welfare programs have positive, or at least neutral results on a person’s health and wellbeing. Food stamps programs have increased children’s health (East), and housing assistance programs have not had a negative effect on people’s health.  (Slopen)


The welfare system put in place during the first half of the 1900’s was designed to help support the oldest, poorest, and most vulnerable of our society from the dangers of extreme poverty, homelessness, and hunger. However, in our modern society it has begun to crumble under the restrictions put into place, as well as decreasing funding and overall lack of support. As well as this, many people who deserve and need assistance are not getting the help they need because of lack of information regarding the welfare programs. In order to provide people with the help they need, we must increase support for these communities.


One of the major researchers in this field is Robert A. Moffitt, at John Hopkins University, Department of Economics. He is one of the authors of one of the research documents highlighted in my annotated bibliography. He has researched heavily into labor economics and applied microeconometrics. He also has published about the AFC, Food Stamp, and Medicaid programs, all of which I’d love to research and showcase in my project.


One of the main ideas proposed from the right is that welfare systems are not helpful to the poor and needy, and that it’s better for them to pull themselves by their bootstraps. One of the more harsh arguments is that housing assistance is unhealthy, due to the unkempt nature of public houses. This is untrue, and according to research food stamps have had a positive impact on children’s health, (Twersky) and public housing has not had an adverse reaction to people’s health. (Slopen). As well as this, there have been several calls for the privatization of certain programs throughout the last few decades. The simple fact is that it is completely unreasonable and irresponsible to privatize them. These programs are designed to lose money and help the poor, not to make money for a private corporation.


    My main idea that could be focused on in the coming semester focuses on the fact that there simply isn’t enough resources and help for many people in needy communities to get on the welfare rolls. Many of these food stamps are incredibly difficult to get on due to the strange, bureaucratic red tape, as well as the multitude of documents that are needed to be approved for this help. It is simply too hard and troublesome to get on these programs, too difficult to a point where people who need them are turned away or otherwise discouraged.

My plan is simple: try to point them in the right direction, in any way I can. My main idea has circulated around the idea of putting up posters in communities with lower average per capita income, pointing people in the right direction, whether to government websites and resources or to private organizations that have multitudes of resources. One of my favorites is, a website that has an extremely large amount of information on it, completely dedicated to helping people get the information they need to help them get the welfare they deserve.


The welfare network is failing in its duties to the public. Whether it be because of lack of communication, or bureaucratic negligence, the various programs that make up our system are simply not reaching out to enough people to provide them the assistance they need. We need to begin to provide support to communities across the country in order to help get more people the help they need. While there have been several campaigns and movements to prevent people from getting on welfare programs in the past, including limiting the programs to extremely specific groups of people, there will always be members of society that need to get on these programs that aren’t on them yet. This is why it is so critical that we, as a society, do not abandon these members of our community and reach out to them.




Moffitt, Robert A. “The Deserving Poor, the Family, and the U.S. Welfare System.” Demography 52.3 (2015): 729–749. Web.


Andreotti, Alberta, et al. “Local Welfare Systems: A Challenge for Social Cohesion.” Urban Studies, vol. 49, no. 9, July 2012, pp. 1925–1940, doi:10.1177/0042098012444884.


Twersky, Sylvia E. “Restrictive State Laws Aimed at Immigrants: Effects on Enrollment in the Food Stamp Program by U.S. Citizen Children in Immigrant Families.” PloS one 14.5 (2019): e0215327–. Web.


East, Chloe N. “The Effect of Food Stamps on Children’s Health: Evidence from Immigrants’ Changing Eligibility.” The Journal of human resources 55.2 (2020): 387–427. Web.

Nielsen, Robert B, Martin C Seay, and Melissa J Wilmarth. “Does Prior Government Assistance Reduce Food or Housing Assistance Among Low‐Income and Food Insecure Households?” Journal of Consumer Affairs 51.3 (2017): 598–630. Web.


Slopen, Natalie et al. “Housing Assistance and Child Health: A Systematic Review.” Pediatrics (Evanston) 141.6 (2018): e20172742–. Web.