Weeks 5 and 6 (15 Points)

Continue reading chapters 6 through 10 in your textbook. This week I would like you to do some research on the internet. Specifically, I would like you to provide me with the details of the Federal 1996 Welfare Reform Act, known also as the "The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996." The reason I would like to focus on welfare reform is that it is widely seen as the most significant act of "devolution" of federal authority in the past decade. That is, it is the most important example of decision-making authority flowing from the federal government to the states.

At the bottom of this introduction are a couple of articles and a comprehensive listing of web sites dealing with the welfare system and welfare reform. You will be able to find everything you need to answer this week's questions at one or two of the sites listed below. Keep checking the different sites. You will come across the information eventually. I would like you to answer the following questions in no more than two pages of text.

The welfare system is probably the one area of public policy most responsible for the decline in trust and confidence in the federal government. More than any other policy or program of the past 35 years, the modern welfare system became a symbol of governmental failure and hypocrisy. When most people think of welfare they think of a system that costs hundreds of billions of dollars, is rife with fraud and cheating, and rewards laziness and irresponsible behavior.

While the image most people have of a typical recipient of welfare - an uneducated, unemployed, unmotivated single mother of many children - may not be accurate, a consensus that the welfare system had to be changed did form by the mid-1990s. As mentioned in the course outline, the Welfare Reform Act was passed in 1996 by the United States Congress and signed by President Clinton.

Suggested Articles:

"Welfare Reform: Can the States Fly Solo?," Policy Review (November-December 1996).

"Welfare Reform and the Decline of Dependence," Testimony Before Congress of Robert Rector.

Douglas Besharov and Peter Germanis, "Welfare Reform - Four Years Later," Public Interest (Summer 2000).

"State to Drop Truancy Program," Newsday, July 25, 2000.

"The Facts on Welfare Reform," New York Post, June 1, 2000.

"A Challenge for City Hall," New York Post February 24, 2000.

You can click on the titles of these articles to view them. Remember, some of the article links for this course are scanned images and are not easy to read. In some cases it may be easier to print out those articles that are difficult to read in hard copy form.


Please answer the following questions in no more than 4 pages.

1. What was wrong with the welfare system before it was reformed in 1996?

2. What were the obstacles to fixing it?

3. List the nation's largest assistance programs for poor people and segment of the poor population each program is designed to help.

4. When people generally refer to "welfare," what government assistance program are they talking about?

5. Describe the five or six major provisions of the Welfare Reform Act. In terms of devolving decision-making authority down to the states, what is the key provision of reform?

6. Describe some of the approaches toward welfare reform that different states are taking. Please include your sources of information.

7. Utilizing your textbook or other sources, explain the difference between Block Grants and Categorical Grants in Aid. Which form of intergovernmental aid does welfare reform utilize.

8. Utilizing some of the articles listed below, what are some problems that welfare reform has run into.

9. Has Welfare Reform been a success? Has it been a failure? Are the results mixed? Provide some data backing your view.

Possibly Helpful Web Sites

The Welfare Information Network


The Welfare Policy Center of the Hudson Institute


National Center For Children in Poverty


Welfare Reform Resource Project


Welfare to Work Partnership


National Conference of State Legislatures


National Governor's Association


Urban Institute


Welfare Reports


Council of State Governments


United States Conference of Mayors


Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development


Institute for Research on Poverty


Welfare Watch


The Center for What Works


The Welfare Reform Resource Project

Alliance for National Renewal


U.S. State and Local Gateway


Child Welfare Reform Page


The New York Times


Los Angeles Times


The Washington Times


Brookings Institute


Families USA


Reason Foundation


The Heartland Foundation


The Heritage Foundation


Cato Institute


Click Here For Weeks 5 and 6 Comments and Answers Page

Click Here to Continue With Weeks 7 and 8 Assignment

Click Here To Return to Seth Forman's Home Page

Click Here to Return to Course Outline Page

Click For:

First Week's Assignment

Second Week's Assignment

Third Week's Assignment

Fourth Week's Assignment

Ninth Week's Assignment

Tenth and Eleventh Week's Assignment

Twelfth Week's Assignment

Thirteenth Week's Assignment

Fourteenth Week's Assignment

E-mail: seth.forman@co.suffolk.ny.us