Lawmakers in Pennsylvania are working to reform welfare in the State, albeit, probably not in the way you might expect. House lawmakers in the State approved a bill Monday that would change the name of Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare to the Department of Human Services in a bid to eliminate the stigma associated with being on the dole.
Pennsylvania lawmakers in support of the name change argue that the State is one of the very last to have a social safety net department including the word “welfare” in its name. The legislative initiative is also supported by nonprofit organizations in the State.
A Department of Human Services “will have a broader definition than simply welfare. It will represent services like children being adopted, preventing child abuse, helping frail seniors, providing independent living for people with disabilities and other important services,” said Bob Nelkin, president of the United Way of Allegheny County.
But a few conservative lawmakers in the State have expressed opposition to the name change.
“Why in the world would we want to rename the Department of Public Welfare?” said Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry) speaking prior to the House vote. “I think there should be a stigmatism for being on welfare. … You should not be satisfied with living off the fruit of your neighbor’s labor.”