Trends and Issues in Welfare Reform

States’ welfare challenges are becoming more complex. As the economy weakened, caseload decline either diminished or reversed. Employment rates declined for both welfare recipients  and those who recently left welfare. More who left welfare either have returned to it or are disconnected, living without a job, welfare, or someone else who can support them. Fortunately, more who left welfare are staying connected to other government safety net supports. States’ welfare offices must combine the message of work and assessment of work barriers with a complex array of services that remediate barriers, track families after they leave welfare, and support working poor families.

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About the Author
Sheila R. Zedlewski is the director of the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute. Her recent work has focused on extreme poverty, government program participation and TANF policy. Zedlewski is also one of the team leaders of The Institute’s Assessing the New Federalism Project, a multi-year, privately funded study designed to understand the effects of devolution of social welfare policies from the federal to the state governments.