About Welfare Reform
In the summer of 1996, Congress passed and the President
signed the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation
Act of 1996." radically transforming the nation's welfare system. Here,
we link to sites that permit you to keep track of the ongoing implementation
of welfare reform in the states and the continuing national discussion
of the issue. we also provide an online copy of the bill, congressional
debate surrounding it, and some of its legislative history.
The Institute for the Study of Civic Values is playing
an important role in the implementation of welfare reform in Philadelphia.
First, we have built a coalition called "JOIN" that
brings together neighborhood, adult literacy, child care, and human service
organizations to fight for public service jobs, education and training,
reverse commuting, and quality child care in responding to welfare reform.
Check out what Jobs
and Opportunity to Improve Neighborhoods (JOIN) is doing and see if
a similar coalition is needed in your community.
ISCV has also organized a Neighborhood Work Experience Program in
Philadelphia--what is now called the Community
Conservation Corps--that offers hard-to-employ welfare recipients with
jobs in community organizations to gain the experience needed to enter
Dr Jo Anne Schneider--the first Director of the ISCV program--elaborates
on this strategy in a paper that has circulated widely among welfare reform
practioners around the country.
In 2002, Congress must vote to reauthorize the Personal Responsibility
and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. For all the attention
paid to the sharp drop in welfare caseloads over the past five years, there
remain thousands of women and children who still must receive cash assistance
under TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) in order to survive.
The original bill set a five-year limit on this assistance. By the end
of 2001, families will start reaching this limit-and losing their support.
The real trouble that welfare 'reform' will cause has yet to begin.
As we enter into a national debate over what to do next, the
online resources that follow can provide an invaluable source of information
Welfare Reform: Ongoing Implementation and Debate
The passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act
sets the stage for ongoing reconstruction of welfare systems on a state-by-state
basis. The debate over these issues will continue as well. Here, we offer
access to sites that enable you to monitor this process.
Analyzing Poverty and Welfare
Tracking Welfare Reform
Commentary on Welfare Reform Implementation
as We Might Know it," Mary Jo Bane, American Prospect, Jan.-Feb.1997
Network:Section on Poliverty, Income and Wealth
"Center for Law and
Social Policy: Welfare and Work Division: Policy Analyst Position"
by Mark Greenberg
Creating a Workbased System Under TANF, Center
for Law and Social Policy
Workfare in Westchester County
Outnumber Jobs They Might Fill (NY Times, Aug. 25th,1996)
Success Difficult to Achieve in Welfare-to-Work
Plans [NY Times, Sept. 1st, 1996]
Rio Grande Valley Immigrants Worry About Welfare
Law [NY Times, Sept. 4th, 1996]
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996
For those interested in the legislative background of welfare reform,
we provide a copy of the Personal Responsibility Act, the Children's Defense
Fund and Urban Institute Analyses of the bill and the issues, speeches
for and against it in the Congressional debate, President Clinton's stated
rationale for signing it, an American Prospect article by David T. Ellwood--who
worked on welfare reform for the Clinton administration--on what happened
to their initial proposals in the process, and the perspective of Robert
Rector of the Heritage Foundation, the conservative who helped Congressional
Republicans draft the Welfare Reform Act of 1996.
Welfare Reform: Legislative History, 1994-1996
Personal Responsibility Act
Even though President Clinton promised to "end welfare as we know it"
in his 1992 Presidential campaign, the national debate over welfare reform
did not take shape until 1994, when the original "Personal Responsibility
Act" was introduced in the House of Representatives as part of the Republican
"Contract With America."
The Senate bill was a modified version of a bill introduced by Senator
Robert Dole (R-Kansas) which proposed to end welfare as an outright entitlement
and is aimed at giving states "increased flexibility" to:
`(1) provide assistance to needy families with minor children;
`(2) provide job preparation and opportunities for such families;
`(3) prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies.
The Personal Responsiblity Act Debate
The debate over the Personal Responsibility Act took place in Congress
and around the country for more than a year.
These were the opening statements made by supporters of the Bill
in the House of Representatives:
Republican Speeches Defending Personal Responsibility
Many representatives offered strong criticism of the Personal Responsibility
Act in the course of the debate. Among the most forceful was a series of
speeches by opponents of the Bill addressing the "causes of poverty."
Congressional Criticism of Personal Responsibility Act
The People Speak: Welfare Reform and the General Welfare
What is your own view of welfare reform? How can it "promote general
welfare?" Is it fair to cut off benefits to welfare recipients when there
are no jobs available for them? If we create public service jobs for all
current welfare recipients, would it be fair to force welfare recipients
to take them?
Here is what others who have visited this page had to say about welfare
during the first two years of the new policies:
Speak: Welfare Reform
Send your own views on welfare reform now that we approach the first
five years of the program. We will develop a new "peoples' speak" page
and include them:
Tell Us Your Views
on Welfare Reform
Return to the Institute for the Study of Civic