A Profile of Families Cycling on and off Welfare. Vermont's Welfare Restructuring Project (WRP)


Vermont's Welfare Restructuring program implemented a 30-month work trigger that required most single parents to work once they had received welfare for 30 cumulative months. The program also included financial incentives in the form of an enhanced earned income disregard that was somewhat more generous than under Vermont's old AFDC program. WRP operated statewide from July 1994 through June 2001.

The evaluation tested the effects of WRP in six welfare districts. The research sample included single parents and adult members of two-parent families who were applying for welfare benefits or were ongoing recipients at their time of random assignment. The evaluation used a three-group research design, in which one program group received the enhanced financial incentives with the work trigger and a second program group received just the incentives. This design tested the effects of incentives alone compared with the effects of incentives combined with the work trigger.

The full WRP program produced modest increases in employment and earnings and decreased welfare payments over a six-year follow-up period, although WRP had little effect on welfare receipt prior to the 30-month point when families were subject to the work requirement. The WRP Incentives Only program had little impact on employment rates and welfare payments, indicating that the program's work requirements were needed. See Bloom et al. (2002) for more detail on the program's effects.

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