Many Cambodian American families have struggled on the economic margins since their arrival to the U.S. in the 1980s. To raise families in poverty Cambodians created family survival strategies to buffer themselves against economic uncertainty and the vagaries of the social welfare system. They combine public assistance with formal and informal work activities of household members, including teenagers and young adults, to survive. With the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 or Welfare Reform, Cambodians lost vital economic resources. Based upon a longitudinal qualitative study from 1998-2007, this article looks back on how first generation Cambodian American household members adjusted to changes in welfare policy practices and how the loss of vital resources impacted the youth (15-19 years old) coming of age in these families. The research findings and family case histories presented in this article illustrate the shared struggle of Cambodian family members in poverty. It reveals the significant challenges second generation Cambodian Americans face to achieve higher education goals when welfare policies systematically undercut family survival strategies.
"A Qualitative Study of the Long Term Impact of Welfare Reform on Cambodian American Families,"
Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement: Vol. 9
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/jsaaea/vol9/iss1/1