One of the most important, and often overlooked, elements of welfare reform is how new policies included in the 1996 law have actually been implemented in state and local offices around the nation. The law gave states unprecedented flexibility over implementation, including the ability to contract with a wide range of private entities. With the reauthorization of the welfare reform law approaching next year, it is important to examine what is happening on the front lines.
The Brookings Welfare Reform & Beyond initiative and the Center for Public Service are co-sponsoring a discussion of recent research they have completed in this arena. The first report, authored by Brookings non-resident Senior Fellow Bryna Sanger, examines the ever-expanding role of the private and non-profit sectors in providing welfare service delivery at the state and local level. The paper focuses on case studies in four jurisdictions—New York City, Milwaukee, San Diego and Houston. The second report, authored by Irene Lurie, Professor of Public Administration and Policy at Rockefeller College at SUNY Albany and research associate at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, provides a frontline assessment of TANF implementation, and its impact on welfare agency performance.
Keynote speaker Stephen Goldsmith, former Mayor of Indianapolis and current chairman of the board of directors of the Corporation for National Service, will address the current state of welfare services and reform. Following this, a panel discussion will be moderated by Peter Harkness of Governing magazine. In addition to the paper authors, respondents will include individuals from the corporate, non-profit, union and advocacy communities, and a local government official.