Now that Illinois social services are being gutted during a down economy, for a broader look at the issue you might want to turn to Talking Points Memo's book club, where they're discussing Out of Reach: Place, Poverty, and the New American Welfare State, a new book by University of Chicago prof Scott Allard:
"The safety net appears to be in flux yet again. Record numbers of persons are receiving unemployment insurance and food stamps. Food pantries are swamped by demand. A striking number of nonprofits report serving people who are working and have had no contact with the safety net previously, but cannot provide the basics for their families and are looking for better paying jobs or jobs with more hours. On top of these challenges, state budget deficits and declines in private giving are placing many programs at risk."