Welfare Reform is a “Big Deal”

August 1, 1999

On June 4, 1999, the Research Center hosted a forum attended by Washington area welfare officials from Maryland, the District, and Virginia, local foundation representatives, researchers and providers. The forum focused on behavior changes in welfare bureaucracies. Richard P. Nathan, Director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, who has been closely following welfare policy and implementation for three decades, shared his observations based on a 20-state evaluation by the Rockefeller Institute currently underway.

Dr. Nathan’s remarks and the discussion that followed emphasize the tremendous changes underway in the country and in this area in social programs and the huge opportunities that now exist for holistic approaches. The forum also provided insight into how area welfare officials view their current missions and frustrations and what concerns service providers about welfare reform. We have reprinted highlights from the discussion almost verbatim because the flow and casualness of ‘shop talk’ convey some of the spirit and commitment we have found in those who are implementing welfare reform in the Washington area.