September 4, 2002
Urban Institute
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) laid the groundwork for a work-oriented welfare system by establishing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant program. The new mission of welfare under PRWORA -—to move people to work and reduce dependency rather than provide income maintenance - —was the catalyst for changes in both welfare policy and the welfare service delivery system. TANF gave states unprecedented fiscal and policy authority to carry out the goals of welfare reform. States used this flexibility to establish a mix of policies designed to promote and reinforce employment among welfare recipients, including stricter work requirements, fewer exemptions from participation in work activities, more severe sanctions for noncompliance with welfare rules and regulations, more generous treatment of recipients' earned income, and time limits on cash assistance.
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