Welfare Reform and Beyond

Welfare Reform and Beyond: The Future of the Safety Net

Isabel V. Sawhill
R. Kent Weaver
Ron Haskins
Andrea Kane
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 228
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt127z2f
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  • Book Info
    Welfare Reform and Beyond
    Book Description:

    The Brookings Institution's Welfare Reform & Beyond Initiative was created to inform the critical policy debates surrounding the upcoming congressional reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and a number of related programs that were created or dramatically altered by the 1996 landmark welfare reform legislation. The goal of the project has been to take the large volume of existing and forthcoming research studies and shape them into a more coherent and policy-oriented whole. This capstone collection gathers twenty brief essays (published between January 2001 and February 2002) that focus on assessing the record of welfare reform, specific issues likely to be debated before the TANF reauthorization, and a broader set of policy options for low-income families. It is a reader-friendly volume that will provide policymakers, the press, and the interested public with a comprehensive guide to the numerous issues that must be addressed as Congress considers the future of the nation's antipoverty policies. The collection covers the following topics and features a new introduction from the editors: - An Overview of Effects to Date - Welfare Reform Reauthorization: An Overview of Problems and Issues - A Tax Proposal for Working Families with Children - Welfare Reform and Poverty - Reducing Non-Marital Births - Which Welfare Reforms are Best for Children? - Welfare and the Economy - What Can Be Done to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Out-of-Wedlock Births? - Changing Welfare Offices - State Programs - Welfare Reform and Employment - Fragile Families, Welfare Reform, and Marriage - Health Insurance, Welfare, and Work - Helping the Hard-to-Employ - Sanctions and Welfare Reform - Child Care and Welfare Reform - Job Retention and Advancement in Welfare Reform - Housing and Welfare Reform - Non-Citizens - Block Grant Structure - Food Stamps - Work Support System - Possible Welfare Reform in the Cities

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-9882-8
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VIII)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. IX-X)
  3. PART I INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

    • 1 An Overview
      (pp. 3-8)
      ISABEL SAWHILL, R. KENT WEAVER and ANDREA KANE

      On August 22, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed legislation that transformed the American welfare system. Many of the new law’s provisions, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), were authorized for six years. By October 1, 2002, the 107thCongress must reauthorize the welfare reform legislation to avoid disrupting the flow of TANF funds to the states.

      The 1996 legislation is one of the most closely examined pieces of social legislation in recent decades. The extensive research available on many facets of the law and its implementation has the potential to...

    • 2 Results to Date
      (pp. 9-19)
      ISABEL SAWHILL, R. KENT WEAVER, RON HASKINS and ANDREA KANE

      A combination of administrative data and research has yielded a wealth of information about the effects of the various changes in welfare law. In later chapters in this volume, authors detail the research as it applies to specific issues and programs. Here our intent is to provide a broad overview of the results of the 1996 law. We focus first on changes in state policies and practices, and then examine the effects on caseloads in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and related programs, employment and earnings, total income, poverty, family formation, and the well-being of children.

      Many studies suggest...

    • 3 Problems and Issues for Reauthorization
      (pp. 20-30)
      ISABEL SAWHILL, R. KENT WEAVER, RON HASKINS and ANDREA KANE

      Reauthorizing the 1996 welfare legislation will be a major issue for the Bush administration and Congress during 2002. The Bush administration unveiled its welfare reform proposal in late February, at about the same time that leading members of Congress introduced their own bills. Both House and Senate committees have held hearings on reauthorization, and the House Ways and Means Committee put reauthorization on a fast track for movement through the House by late spring or early summer. The Senate will probably pass its own reauthorization bill in the summer. A House/Senate conference committee is likely to fashion the final bill...

  4. PART II STATE RESPONSES

    • 4 State Policy Choices Under Welfare Reform
      (pp. 33-40)
      THOMAS GAIS and R. KENT WEAVER

      The 1996 federal welfare reform law joined two approaches to changing welfare policy in the United States. The law put in place many policies reflecting a conservative approach to the goals of work, independence, and marriage. These included time limits on assistance, stricter work requirements, and demands that teen mothers live with their parents and finish school. The law also strengthened requirements that clients cooperate with child support enforcement efforts and established stronger sanctions for noncompliance.

      However, the law also created a block grant giving states flexibility in fashioning their own policy and administrative strategies to achieve the goals of...

    • 5 Changing Welfare Offices
      (pp. 41-48)
      IRENE LURIE

      The implementation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program occurs at thousands of welfare offices where staff talk with people who are applying for assistance or already receiving it. At this point of service delivery, the TANF legislation, state laws and regulations, agreements between agencies that serve TANF clients, and the many other arrangements and procedures needed to run the program are brought to life.

      To understand how TANF has unfolded, and how welfare caseloads have been cut so sharply, we must look at what happens inside welfare offices. How are the new rules in the TANF legislation...

    • 6 Sanctions and Welfare Reform
      (pp. 49-56)
      DAN BLOOM and DON WINSTEAD

      Sanctions are financial penalties for failing to comply with work or other requirements of state welfare programs. They have been a central feature of the welfare reforms of the 1990s. Although time limits may receive more attention in the media, many more families have been directly affected by sanctions, and sanctions have arguably played a greater role in reshaping welfare recipients’ day-today experiences.

      Sanctions will be an important topic of discussion when Congress considers the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant in 2002. Some participants in the reauthorization debate will argue that Congress should require...

  5. PART III RESULTS TO DATE

    • 7 Welfare Reform and Poverty
      (pp. 59-70)
      RON HASKINS and WENDELL PRIMUS

      Child poverty will be an important issue as the welfare reform reauthorization debate heats up in the 107thCongress. Since the federal government adopted a standard definition of poverty in the 1960s, scholars, politicians, the media, and the public have used poverty as a measure of the strength and success of government policy and the economy. Having a standard definition of poverty, however, does not prevent disputes on many issues related to poverty. Thus, it comes as no surprise that reauthorization will spark debates about whether the federal government is primarily responsible for poverty reduction, about whether welfare reform has...

    • 8 Which Welfare Reforms are Best for Children?
      (pp. 71-78)
      PAMELA A. MORRIS and GREG J. DUNCAN

      The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the centerpiece of the 1996 federal welfare reform law, imposed time limits and work requirements on welfare recipients in all states. TANF also freed states to formulate a variety of sanction and incentive packages, some of which have been relatively generous. In this policy brief, we summarize results from a synthesis of nearly a dozen welfare experiments to identify which ones are most favorable for children.

      Over the past 30 years, policymakers have struggled to devise a welfare system that would simultaneously protect children and encourage parents’ self-sufficiency. Until recently, however, there...

    • 9 From Welfare to Work: What the Evidence Shows
      (pp. 79-86)
      ROBERT A. MOFFITT

      The American public has made clear that work by welfare recipients is a defining goal of state and federal welfare laws, the pursuit of which deserves the highest priority in social welfare policy. One of the four goals listed by Congress in the 1996 welfare reform legislation was to encourage job preparation and work. Work among welfare recipients is widely regarded as part of the social contract—a quid pro quo for the provision of income support—as well as a source of self-esteem and self-reliance among single mothers. This in turn is thought to increase the mothers’ chances for...

  6. PART IV TANF FUNDING AND THE ECONOMY

    • 10 The Structure of the TANF Block Grant
      (pp. 89-96)
      R. KENT WEAVER

      The 1996 welfare reform legislation replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program with a new Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant that is very different than its predecessor. In the old AFDC program, funds were used almost entirely to provide and administer cash assistance to low-income—usually single-parent—families. The federal government matched state expenditures, with poorer states’ expenditures matched at a much higher rate than wealthier states. AFDC caseloads tended to go up during recessions and down during good economic times (although the linkage was not nearly as close as with the Food Stamp...

    • 11 Welfare and the Economy
      (pp. 97-104)
      REBECCA M. BLANK

      The 1990s produced a host of unexpected economic good news. Contrary to all economic predictions, unemployment fell to 4 percent by the end of the decade and inflation remained low and stable. Black and Hispanic Americans experienced record low unemployment rates, and women experienced unemployment rates nearly as low as in the 1960s, a time when far fewer women were in the labor force. At the same time, real wages for less-skilled workers began to rise steadily starting around 1995, following almost 20 years of decline or stagnation. Between 1994 and 1999, real wages rose 5 percent among male high...

  7. PART V ENCOURAGING AND REWARDING WORK

    • 12 Welfare Reform and the Work Support System
      (pp. 107-119)
      ISABEL SAWHILL and RON HASKINS

      The 1996 welfare reform law represents a fundamental shift in how the federal government provides support to destitute families. Under pre-1996 law, low-income families were entitled to a package of welfare benefits that included cash, food stamps, and Medicaid. The American public came to believe that this system of entitlement benefits contributed to a decline in work by poor parents and an even more striking decline in the number of poor children being reared in two-parent families. Among other provisions, the 1996 reforms required work of almost every adult that joined the welfare rolls. In addition, with some exceptions, a...

    • 13 The Role of Education and Training in Welfare Reform
      (pp. 120-127)
      JUDITH M. GUERON and GAYLE HAMILTON

      In recent years, single mothers on welfare have gone to work in unprecedented numbers. But with limited skills and work histories, they usually get low-paying jobs and remain in poverty. The situation is especially acute for the half of the caseload that does not graduate from high school. Since recipients with higher skills tend to get better jobs, it seems logical that education and training should play a central role in welfare reform. But what kind of role?

      Welfare policy reflects an ongoing effort to balance two objectives—reducing poverty and ending dependency. Reformers on all sides favor these goals,...

    • 14 Job Retention and Advancement in Welfare Reform
      (pp. 128-134)
      NANCYE CAMPBELL, JOHN K. MANIHA and HOWARD ROLSTON

      With implementation of welfare waivers and the subsequent enactment of federal welfare reform legislation in 1996, state and local governments began to transform the welfare system through systematic implementation of mandatory programs to help welfare recipients get jobs. These efforts built on fifteen years of innovative efforts and rigorous evaluations at the state and local level. The resulting growth in employment for low-income mothers has surpassed all expectations. Analysis of Census Bureau data by Richard Bavier of the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), for example, shows that real annual earnings (in 2000 dollars) of females heading families with...

    • 15 Helping the Hard-to-Employ
      (pp. 135-142)
      LADONNA PAVETTI

      In the last five years, the nation has witnessed unprecedented changes in the circumstances of single-parent families and in the structure of the safety net available to assist them. These changes are due, at least in part, to the passage of the 1996 welfare reform law. Under the new Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, the cash welfare rolls have fallen more than 50 percent. Even more impressive is the fact that the number of never-married mothers who are working increased by 50 percent between 1993 and 1998.

      These changes occurred during a time when welfare offices have...

  8. PART VI FAMILY FORMATION

    • 16 Reducing Non-Marital Births
      (pp. 145-151)
      PAUL OFFNER

      Thirty-five years ago in “The Negro Family: A Call to Action,” Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was then assistant secretary of labor, called the nation’s attention to the growing problem of non-marital births within the African American community. At the time, his views were attacked as racist, although just about everyone now agrees that Moynihan was right in his diagnosis. Today, the non-marital ratio (non-marital births as a proportion of all births) is one of our most carefully watched social indicators, and is seen by many as a measure of our society’s sexual permissiveness, as well as its less then total...

    • 17 Fragile Families, Welfare Reform, and Marriage
      (pp. 152-159)
      SARA MCLANAHAN, IRWIN GARFINKEL and RONALD B. MINCY

      Promoting marriage and two-parent families is of great importance to policymakers. The benefits of marriage for adults (better health, greater longevity, and higher earnings) have been well documented, and the benefits of growing up with two biological parents (more education, greater marital stability, and better mental health) are widely acknowledged. Moreover, Congress and the Bush administration seem determined to make marriage a major issue in the welfare reform reauthorization debate.

      Welfare rolls have dropped dramatically since 1996, and large proportions of welfare recipients have moved from dependency to work. At the same time, the proportion of births to unmarried mothers,...

    • 18 What Can Be Done to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Out-of-Wedlock Births?
      (pp. 160-170)
      ISABEL SAWHILL

      Virtually all of the growth of single-parent families in recent decades has been driven by an increase in births outside marriage. Divorce rates have leveled off or declined modestly since the early 1980s and thus have not contributed to the rising proportion of children being raised by only one parent nor to the increase in child poverty and welfare dependence associated with the rise in single-parent families.

      Not all non-marital births are to teen-agers. In fact, 70 percent of all births outside marriage are to women over age 20. For this reason, some argue that a focus on teens fails...

  9. PART VII RELATED PROGRAMS

    • 19 Food Stamps and Welfare Reform
      (pp. 173-180)
      MICHAEL WISEMAN

      In a typical month in 2001, 17.3 million people in 7.5 million households received food stamps at an annual cost of $20 billion. Current Food Stamp Program (FSP) appropriations expire September 30, 2002, coincidentally with the expiration of authorization for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The 1996 legislation that created TANF included food stamp provisions, and the close connections between TANF and the FSP mean that the welfare reform reauthorization debate involves both.

      For low-income families with children, the FSP shares some characteristics with both TANF and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). On the one hand, TANF dollars...

    • 20 Health Insurance, Welfare, and Work
      (pp. 181-188)
      ALAN WEIL and JOHN HOLAHAN

      The 1996 welfare reform law included provisions specifically designed to prevent major changes in the welfare system from leading to the loss of Medicaid health insurance for low-income children and adults. Despite these provisions, Medicaid enrollment among this group fell in the first few years after welfare reform, leading many to conclude that something had gone wrong. In recent years, Medicaid enrollment has begun to climb again. As the federal welfare law comes up for reauthorization in 2002, policymakers may want to consider changes in the law that would increase Medicaid coverage for low-income families.

      Since its enactment in 1965,...

    • 21 Child Care and Welfare Reform
      (pp. 189-196)
      GINA ADAMS and MONICA ROHACEK

      Child care is an essential part of federal and state welfare policy because it allows low-income families to move from welfare to work and to stay employed. Because the two primary sources of federal funding for child care subsidies, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant, are scheduled for reauthorization in 2002, child care will be a vital part of the welfare reauthorization debate. Child care subsidies, which are usually provided as vouchers that parents can use to purchase any type of child care, have primarily focused on helping...

    • 22 Welfare Reform and Housing
      (pp. 197-204)
      REBECCA SWARTZ and BRIAN MILLER

      Housing is more than bricks and mortar. It is a key factor in determining a family’s access to economic and educational opportunities, exposure to violence and environmental hazards, and ability to accumulate financial assets. Too few low-income families reap the positive benefits of living in stable and reasonably priced housing, and many frequently move in and out of undesirable or unsustainable housing. This lack of stable housing can create difficulties for parents trying to retain employment and can increase the likelihood that their children will have problems in school.

      Despite being the single largest cost for most families, housing receives...

    • 23 Welfare Benefits for Non-citizens
      (pp. 205-212)
      MICHAEL FIX and RON HASKINS

      One of the more contentious issues in the 1996 welfare reform debate was whether the federal government should provide welfare benefits to non-citizens who are legal residents of the United States. The sometimes bitter debate revealed a fundamental divide in how advocates, analysts, and policymakers think about welfare for non-citizens. On the one hand, those who support welfare benefits for non-citizens point out that at the time of the 1996 reforms, legal non-citizens enjoyed access to a wide range of welfare benefits. This access was based on the principle that non-citizens come to America to participate in the full range...

  10. Contributors
    (pp. 213-214)