Letter from the Executive Director

Policy & Practice of Public Human Services, December 1998 | Go to article overview

Letter from the Executive Director


William Waldman

Much has been written about the actual and projected impact of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 and related legislation and policy--about its devolution of more authority and responsibility for major social programs from the federal government to the states. Much research is currently underway on this topic, underwritten and undertaken by the federal government, states, foundations, and universities. To the maximum degree feasible, all of us need to understand the effects of this most significant social policy change of our generation.

Although many findings and conclusions have yet to be written, the following observations can be made:

* Welfare caseloads have dropped dramatically to historic lows.

* Record numbers of welfare recipients are entering the workforce.

* Welfare programs are evolving away from the isolated, stigmatized constructs of the past. States are creating more seamless delivery systems that serve welfare recipients in a broader context along with working poor families and families in transition.

* The eligibility thresholds for such key supports as child care and health care coverage have been raised considerably, in many cases well beyond the federal poverty level. …

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