Study Shows That Welfare Reform Has Positive Effects

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HHS News Release

The Department of Health and Human Services today announced that a well-designed evaluation of Indiana's welfare program showed that the program produced a range of positive results for recipients.

The study shows that recipients participating in a "work-first" approach had increased earning and employment rates and reduced reliance on cash assistance over time as compared to a control group. In addition, only about seven percent of these recipients stayed on the rolls for the two-year maximum allowed by the state. Further, the evaluation found that the welfare reform families did not experience higher rates of substantiated child maltreatment, as some had predicted.

The results come from an evaluation that began in May 1995 in which Indiana randomly assigned its entire welfare caseload to one of two groups: one governed by new, TANF-like welfare reform policies or one operating under previous policies in effect under the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program.

The study also found that welfare reform was cost-effective, with the savings in welfare payments outweighing the costs of providing additional child care and employment services.

"This study bolsters our conviction that full-time work is the surest route, not just off of welfare, but out of poverty," said Wade F. Horn, Ph.D., assistant secretary for children and families. "Contrary to the views of some critics, families ended up on the road to independence with the help of welfare reform policies, and even more important, this happened without negatively affecting their children."

ACF funded the evaluation through a grant to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. Abt Associates conducted the study which is posted at

Contact: ACF Press Office (202) 401-9215
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