State's Welfare Numbers Way Down
Fowler gets more help than most other recipients because of a medical condition, although she knows the hardships of being on general welfare.
"With general relief, I was only making $80 a month, and I lived in the highrise then, so it wasn't a whole lot to make it," she added.
The Welfare to Work reform program started in 1996, when the state gave welfare recipients job training to help wean them away from government assistance. However, many recipients were able to get only low-paying jobs, so they still needed help to rise above the federal poverty level.
"Welfare to Work really caused a lot of people to leave welfare, but that doesn't decrease the people that come for food," said Marylyn Defeo of the Samaritan Center. "Just because you're off welfare, those folks still have large families, they still have to work low-end jobs."
Larger families and some people with jobs do get more assistance through various welfare programs, and fewer people receiving welfare may even benefit those who still receive it.
"I think some people still need help, and what's kind of exciting about the caseload reduction is that we're able to take those resources and turn them into other support services," said Janel Luck, director of Family Support
Missouri's unemployment rate has dropped in recent years, which also helped people to get off welfare.