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 Home > News & Policies > Policies in Focus > Welfare Reform

Reforming Welfare to Increase Independence & Strengthen Families


The President's welfare reform agenda will strengthen families and help more welfare recipients work toward independence and self-reliance. The President's agenda builds on the success of the historic 1996 welfare reform law:

  • Helps more welfare recipients achieve independence through work.
  • Protects children and strengthens families.
  • Empowers states to seek new and innovative solutions to help welfare recipients achieve independence.
  • Provides compassionate food assistance to legal immigrants in need.
Key Components of the President’s Welfare Reform Agenda

Helping Welfare Recipients Achieve Independence Through Work

  • Increasing Minimum Work Requirements. Under current law, at least 50% of welfare families are required to participate in work and other activities designed to help them achieve self-sufficiency. The President’s plan closes loopholes and increases the work requirement by 5% per year until reaching 70% in FY 2007.
  • Requiring Welfare Recipients to Put in a Full Work Week. The President’s proposal builds on the successful work requirements of the 1996 welfare reform law by requiring welfare recipients to work 40 hours per week – either at a job or in programs designed to help them achieve independence. The plan makes special accommodations for parents with infants and individuals who need substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation or special work-related training.
Protecting Children & Strengthening Families
  • Protecting Children by Providing Historic Childcare Funding. The President proposes to continue historically high levels of support for childcare ($4.8 billion per year) through the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
  • Strengthening Child Support Enforcement and Encouraging States to Give Child Support Payments To Mothers And Children. Under current law, government keeps a substantial portion of the money collected to pay past-due child support in cases of families that have received welfare. The President’s proposal provides financial incentives for the states to give as much of this money as possible to mothers and children, especially mothers who have left welfare.
  • Encouraging Healthy Marriages and Two-Parent Married Families as a Goal. The President’s plan directs up to $300 million for programs that encourage healthy, stable marriages. These programs include pre-marital education and counseling, as well as research and technical assistance into promising approaches that work.
Encouraging Innovation by States to Help Welfare Recipients Achieve Independence
  • Establishing Broad New Waiver Authority to Encourage State Program Innovation. New waiver authority will be established to enable states to integrate a range of programs in order to improve their effectiveness. This new flexibility will help states design fully integrated assistance programs that could revolutionize service delivery.
  • Allowing States to Better Coordinate Childcare and Other Non-Cash Work Support Services. States support the transition from welfare to work by providing families with a range of benefits and services including food stamps, childcare, income supplements and transportation assistance. Under the President’s proposal, states would be given the flexibility to streamline and coordinate these support programs, which now operate under different agencies, different rules, and different reporting requirements.
Providing Assistance for Legal Immigrants in Need
  • Ensuring Vulnerable Legal Immigrants Get Adequate Nutrition: The President’s proposal will allow legal immigrants to receive food stamps five years after entry to the United States. This policy will help to ensure adequate nutrition among children and other vulnerable immigrant groups, while continuing to require new entrants to support themselves and their families through work.
  • Safeguarding Against Welfare Dependency Among Non-Citizens: The President’s plan will continue the existing five-year ban on welfare benefits for non-citizens entering the country after 1996 – ensuring that welfare policy neither attracts non-citizens to the U.S. to take advantage of welfare nor induces welfare dependency among non-citizens who do receive welfare benefits.