print-only banner
The White House Skip Main Navigation
In Focus
News by Date
Federal Facts
West Wing

 Home > News & Policies > June 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 3, 2002

New Report Shows That Welfare Reform Really Works

Today's Presidential Action

During a visit to Little Rock, Arkansas, President Bush called on the Senate to take action to continue the historic progress of welfare reform and ensure that more Americans are able to achieve independence through work.

A new report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) underscores the President's goal of strengthening the core elements of the historic 1996 welfare reform law. In its annual report to Congress on the level of welfare dependency in the country, HHS found that:

  • 4.7 million fewer Americans were dependent on welfare within three years after welfare reform was first passed in 1996. The percentage of the population that is dependent on welfare fell from 5.2% to 3.3% during this time.

  • As the rate of welfare dependency declined, the overall poverty rate in America fell. In the four years following enactment of welfare reform in 1996, 5.4 million fewer Americans were in poverty. Within these four years, the poverty rate for all individuals fell from 13.7% to 11.3% -- the lowest rate since 1979.

    The President called on the Senate to pass a welfare reform bill with a strong work requirement to help more Americans achieve the goal of independence for themselves and their families.

    Background on the President's Welfare Reform Agenda

    This year, Congress must act to reauthorize the historic 1996 welfare reform law. President Bush proposes to build on the success of the bipartisan 1996 reforms by making 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. At least 24 of these 40 hours must be employment, while the remaining time can be spent in job training programs, rehabilitative services and substance abuse treatment.

  • Protect children and strengthen families. The President's plan continues historically high levels of support for childcare ($4.8 billion per year) through the Child Care and Development Block Grant. 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.

  • Provide compassionate food assistance to legal immigrants in need. The President's proposal will allow legal immigrants to receive food stamps five years after entry to the United States -- ensuring adequate nutrition among children and other vulnerable immigrant groups. The President's plan also continues to require new entrants to support themselves and their families through work and continues the existing five-year ban on welfare benefits for non-citizens entering the country after 1996.

  • Empower states to seek new and innovative solutions to help welfare recipients achieve independence. One of the key pillars of the President's welfare reform plan, as well as the 1996 welfare reform law, is to encourage innovation by states and local governments to help people move from welfare dependency toward independence. The President's plan establishes a Ticket to Independence program to encourage state and local innovation, reduce red tape and improve the quality of services provided to Americans in need.

    For more information on the President's initiatives please visit