chapter  6
State Welfare Plans Under PRWORA
Pages 23

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 has resulted in the most innovative period in the history of American welfare. All fifty states, the District of Columbia, and several territories have designed new welfare systems, with the ultimate goal of finding ways to help the poor become independent through self-employment. Although the 1996 act places many requirements and restrictions on the states, it allows considerable flexibility in designing new welfare systems. Most states have used this discretion to test experimental programs, and many have used it to redesign their welfare systems. States are experimenting with a wide range of policies designed to move welfare recipients, and would-be recipients, into the job market, and assist them with support services while they become settled in the workforce. The plans being implemented across the nation vary, even within states, where different approaches are often being tested in one or more counties.