House Committee on the Budget

Making Ends Meet: Challenges Facing Working Families in America

Changes in welfare receipt, work, income, and poverty are not the only possible effects of the 1996 reforms. Unlike previous welfare reform legislation, the 1996 reforms aimed specifically at decreasing the number of children born outside marriage and increasing the formation of two-parent families. In creating the TANF block grant, Congress formulated four goals that states should use the block grant funds to achieve. One of these, of course, was to provide cash assistance to destitute families. But an explicit goal of the legislation was to reduce welfare dependency both by increasing work and by increasing marriage. In fact, three of the four TANF goals addressed issues of family formation.