Session 1: Child Well-Being
Welfare reform was enacted 20 years ago after a highly partisan battle that lasted nearly two years. The final bill, though controversial, was passed by large margins in both the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Since enactment, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program created by the legislation has generated a huge volume of research about its implementation and its effects, with widespread agreement that this massive body of research contains many lessons about not only the effects of the TANF program itself, but also about the functioning and adequacy of the nation’s safety net.
On September 22, 2016, The University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research and the Center on Children and Families at Brookings hosted a series of panels on the effects of welfare reform on child well-being, marriage and families, work and poverty, and state policy choices. These panels featured the nation’s leading experts on welfare reform as well as analysts who played important roles in enactment or implementation of the TANF program. The panels were followed by keynote speeches by Newt Gingrich, who was speaker of the House during the two-year debate, and Bruce Reed, who headed President Clinton’s Domestic Policy Council and helped formulate the president’s reform proposals.