Forty-Two Month Impacts of Vermont’s Welfare Restructuring Project
One of the first statewide welfare reform programs initiated under waivers of federal welfare rules that were granted before the passage of the 1996 federal welfare reform law, Vermont’s Welfare Restructuring Project aimed to increase work and self-support among recipients of cash assistance. Under WRP, most single-parent recipients were required to work in wage-paying jobs once they had received welfare for 30 cumulative months (two-parent families with an able-bodied primary wage earner face a full-time work requirement after 15 months of benefits). The program also included a set of financial work incentives, consisting of supports for families who leave welfare for employment, as well as changes in welfare rules intended to encourage and reward work. Updating earlier estimates of the program’s impact, an analysis of administrative records done for this report finds that employment rates increased substantially as the work-trigger time limit was reached and families relied more on earnings and less on cash assistance, but total household income was unaffected.