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 Home > News & Policies > January 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 14, 2003

Fact Sheet
President Calls for Action on Welfare Reform
Today's Presidential Action

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President Bush called on Congress to enact his welfare reform agenda to strengthen families and help more welfare recipients work toward independence and self-reliance.

President Bush has outlined a welfare reform agenda that builds on the success of the historic 1996 welfare reform law. The President’s plan will:

  • Help more welfare recipients achieve independence through work.
  • Increase the welfare-to-work resources available for families.
  • Protect children and strengthen families.
  • Empower states and local governments with a new Ticket to Independence initiative with new flexibility to more effectively move people from welfare dependency to work.

    Background on the President’s Welfare Reform Agenda

    Last year, Congress began the process of reauthorizing the historic, bipartisan 1996 welfare reform law. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, welfare reform helped to move 4.7 million Americans from welfare dependency to self-sufficiency within three years of enactment, and the number of welfare caseloads has declined by 54% since 1996. The 1996 welfare reform law expired at the end of last year. President Bush is calling on Congress to act now to sustain and expand on the success of welfare reform.

    President Bush proposes to make welfare even more focused on the well-being of children and supportive of families. The President’s plan is designed to strengthen families and help more welfare recipients work toward independence and self-reliance. The President’s welfare reform plan will:

  • Help more welfare recipients achieve independence through work The President’s plan requires welfare recipients to work 40 hours per week – either at a job or in programs designed to help them achieve independence.
  • Increase the welfare-to-work resources available for families – The President’s plan will provide an average of $16,000 per family in federal and state welfare, childcare, and job training resources, compared to $7,000 per family available in 1996 when welfare reform was enacted. Although welfare caseloads have declined by more than half, President Bush proposes to fund the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families programs at the fully authorized level of $17 billion to ensure that struggling families get the support they need to move from welfare dependency to work and self-sufficiency.
  • Protect children and strengthen families. The President proposes to continue historically high levels of support for childcare ($4.8 billion per year) through the Child Care and Development Fund. The President’s welfare reform plan also provides states financial incentives to give more of the past-due child support payments they collect to mothers and children.
  • Empower states to seek new and innovative solutions to help welfare recipients achieve independence. The President’s plan establishes a Ticket to Independence program to encourage state and local innovation. Under the President’s plan, state and local governments will be able to consolidate a range of welfare programs (such as food stamps, housing, workforce programs, and adult education) to eliminate conflicting requirements, reduce red tape and improve their effectiveness for the people they serve. This new flexibility will help states design better programs that could significantly improve service delivery for Americans in need.

    For more information on the President's initiatives please visit www.whitehouse.gov