Welfare Waivers Implementation:

States Work to Change Welfare Culture, Community Involvement, and Service Delivery

HEHS-96-105: Published: Jul 2, 1996. Publicly Released: Jul 2, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed five states' early experiences with implementing welfare reforms under waivers of federal law, focusing on the states' approaches in implementing time-limited benefits, work requirements, and family cap provisions.

GAO found that: (1) the five states made relatively few management or service delivery changes to implement their family cap provisions; (2) the states' geographic scope of implementation and work requirements varied considerably, but time limits for cash benefits were generally 24 months, followed by a longer period of ineligibility for cash assistance; (3) four states changed their welfare program operations to implement their time limits and work requirements; (4) the states encouraged staff and clients to focus on clients' employability by establishing job placement goals for each office, having clients sign personal responsibility agreements, basing benefits on how much time clients spent in work, training, or education activities, increasing clients' financial incentives as they began working, and applying sanctions for clients' failure to comply with program requirements; (5) the states disseminated information to communities and employers to increase their interest in welfare reforms and formed community advisory groups, which usually led to better client access to jobs; (6) the states redesigned their service delivery structures to provide more intensive support for clients by coordinating services, increasing staff interaction with clients, and expanding the availability of child care and transportation for their clients; and (7) the states encountered some problems in implementing welfare reforms, but they were able to resolve most of those problems.

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