The Family Cap

Probes a repeal of the New Jersey Family Cap and a reformation of the New Jersey welfare policies in general.

In 1993, New Jersey became the first state to introduce the so-called Family Cap in state welfare policy, under which the state no longer awards cash assistance payments to women who have more children while on welfare. Since 1993, twenty-two other states have enacted similar laws. In January of 2003, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) acted on behalf of New Jersey welfare recipients by taking the Family Cap provision to the State Supreme Court, arguing that it violated the Constitution of New Jersey. However, the Supreme Court of New Jersey upheld the original Family Cap decision, claiming it did not violate any existing constitutional laws in the state. This paper argues that the Family Cap, designed to penalize unwise family planning, results in unethical and discriminatory practices. The paper proposes a repeal of the Family Cap and a reformation of the New Jersey welfare policies.
“Although some studies suggest that birth rates have declined due to the Family Cap, a closer examination of the research shows that birth rates declined universally before the Cap was instated (Donovan; Levin-Epstein). In fact, the Rutgers studies outlined by Levin-Epstein do not exhibit any clear positive results stemming from the instatement of the Family Cap. Furthermore, those in favor of the Cap imagine that it will help welfare recipients become more financially independent by decreasing their reliance on government assistance. However, the Cap only hurts children born to poor mothers and is therefore unethical and discriminatory.”