Performance Improvement 2003. Background


Welfare reform has been legislated for the past 30 years, but the knowledge of what type of reform works best in moving people off welfare to work is still unknown. Although research in the 1980s demonstrated that provision of job search programs sped up the entry of welfare recipients into the labor market, the jobs were often short term and/or low-paying. The severely disadvantaged were not impacted. Some states began offering alternative programs that emphasized basic education and skill development.  These programs are more costly, but may be more cost-effective. The implementation of the TANF program made the question of which welfare-to-work strategy was most effective more urgent.

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