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Past Event

The 20th anniversary of welfare reform: Lessons and takeaways

Past Event

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.



Session 1: Child Well-Being

Lawrence Berger

Professor, Doctoral Program Chair, and Director of the Institute for Research on Poverty - University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Social Work

Janet Currie

Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs Director of the Center for Health and Well-Being - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

Robert Doar

President and Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies - American Enterprise Institute

Jane Waldfogel

Compton Foundation Centennial Professor of Social Work for the Prevention of Children’s and Youth Problems - Columbia University

From this Session


Session 2: Marriage and Families

Daniel Lichter

Ferris Family Professor of Policy Analysis and Management, Robert S. Harrison Director of the Institute for Social Sciences - Cornell University

Wade Horn

Public Sector Health and Human Services Leader - Deloitte

From this Session


Session 3: Work and Poverty

Ronald Mincy

Maurice V. Russell Professor of Social Policy and Social Work Practice, and Director of the Center for Research on Fathers, Children, and Family Well-Being - Columbia University

Lawrence Mead

Professor, Department of Politics - New York University

From this Session


Session 4: State Policy Choices


James P. Ziliak

Gatton Endowed Chair in Microeconomics - Department of Economics, University of Kentucky

Director - Center for Poverty Research, University of Kentucky

Raquel Hatter

Commissioner - Tennessee Department of Human Services

Michael Wiseman

Research Professor of Public Policy, Public Administration, and Economics - The George Washington University

Don Winstead

Principal and Founder - Don Winstead Consulting, LLC

From this Session


Keynote Speeches

Newt Gingrich

Center for Health Transformation

Speaker of the House of Representatives during the welfare reform debate

Bruce Reed

Head of the Domestic Policy Council during the welfare reform debate

From this Session

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