Setting the Baseline: A Report on State Welfare Waivers. Foreword


In August, 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) was enacted. This Act eliminated the federal statute that governed the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, the sixty-year old program most commonly referred to by the term "welfare." In its place, the new law created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant which states can use to provide cash and services to low-income families with children.

This Report on State Welfare Waivers is one in a series designed to provide baseline information on the AFDC program as it existed prior to enactment of the new law. Other reports in this series will provide an historical overview of the program as it evolved over time, and will include statistical information on program and recipient characteristics. We hope this series will be of use to anyone with an interest in welfare policy and in the impact of the new law.

This first report focuses on the waivers of AFDC requirements that were granted to states in the years preceding enactment of PRWORA. Between 1993 and 1996, 43 waivers were granted to states to reform their welfare programs. The report provides an overview of the types of waivers that states requested and received, and also provides detailed information on the specific policies chosen by the states.

Many observers have noted that the flexibility granted to the states through the waiver process and under the new TANF block grant creates an unprecedented opportunity for experimentation. Experimentation requires careful observation of initial conditions and the changes that are made, as well as the eventual outcomes. We hope that this report and its successors will contribute to that effort.

Ann Rosewater

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation