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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Brock, Thomas; Nelson, Laura C. ; Reiter, Megan
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    A primary objective of the 1996 welfare reform law, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity; Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), is to end poor families’ dependence on public benefits by helping them prepare for employment. Part of MDRC’s Project on Devolution and Urban Change, this report examines how four urban counties—Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Los Angeles, Miami-Dade, and Philadelphia—have approached the challenge of moving large numbers of welfare recipients into work. Focusing on the period from 1997 through early 2001, the report draws on interviews and observations conducted at the county welfare offices, a survey of welfare office staff, and participation and expenditure data supplied by the counties and the States in which they are located. 
    
    Though large welfare bureaucracies have historically been able to ride out pressures to change, after PRWORA’s passage the sites in the Urban Change study made important policy and operational changes directed at moving welfare recipients into the workforce. Designing and implementing these changes took...

    A primary objective of the 1996 welfare reform law, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity; Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), is to end poor families’ dependence on public benefits by helping them prepare for employment. Part of MDRC’s Project on Devolution and Urban Change, this report examines how four urban counties—Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Los Angeles, Miami-Dade, and Philadelphia—have approached the challenge of moving large numbers of welfare recipients into work. Focusing on the period from 1997 through early 2001, the report draws on interviews and observations conducted at the county welfare offices, a survey of welfare office staff, and participation and expenditure data supplied by the counties and the States in which they are located. 
    
    Though large welfare bureaucracies have historically been able to ride out pressures to change, after PRWORA’s passage the sites in the Urban Change study made important policy and operational changes directed at moving welfare recipients into the workforce. Designing and implementing these changes took several years and considerable financial and human resources. Three of the four counties shifted from an emphasis on education and training to a “work-first” approach (Los Angeles had already moved in that direction by the time PRWORA was passed). All four counties also made substantial strides toward increasing the percentage of welfare recipients who were employed or participating in welfare-to-work activities. Finally, despite falling caseloads, spending on welfare-to-work programs increased dramatically in all the counties. The changes did not always proceed smoothly. For instance, state and local policymakers sometimes clashed over program objectives, and case managers—who play a critical role in linking recipients and policies—sometimes struggled to fulfill their increasingly complicated responsibilities. Supplementary funds for serving hard-to-employ recipients were available through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Welfare-To-Work grant program, but only Philadelphia made extensive use of them. All the counties continue to search for effective strategies for working with the hard-to-employ. (Author abstract)