Welfare rolls declined after Temporary Assistance for Needy Families became law in 1996, and there was widespread consensus that its reforms were a bipartisan success story. But the onslaught of the Great Recession exposed serious flaws in the law. This memo describes a two-part solution based on experience and evidence.
Subsidized employment programs use public funds to create jobs for the unemployed. This two-page memo describes how they can provide short-term income support to individuals with serious barriers to employment or to broader groups during poor economic times — while having positive effects on reducing recidivism, increasing child support payments, or reducing reliance on welfare.
Implementation, Effects, and Experiences of Poor Families and Neighborhoods
Welfare caseloads fell, employment increased, and social conditions generally improved in Miami-Dade County after the 1996 federal welfare reform law was passed, but the county’s welfare-to-work program was poorly implemented and unusually harsh.
In MDRC’s study of over 160,000 single-parent welfare recipients, families who repeatedly return to welfare assistance—“cyclers”—were less disadvantaged in the labor market than long-term welfare recipients. At the same time, they were less able than short-term recipients to attain stable employment and to work without welfare.