The Brookings Institution Welfare Reform & Beyond initiative is sponsoring a forum at which key members of Congress will discuss their priorities for this year’s reauthorization of the 1996 welfare reform law. Congress has already begun work on the legislation, which must be reauthorized by October 1, 2002. Participants in the discussion are expected to address a number of issues that have become central during the debate. These include whether to change work participation requirements, whether states should take steps to encourage marriage, whether reduction of child poverty should be adopted as an official goal of federal welfare policy, what actions can be taken to assure that families leaving welfare receive food stamps and Medicaid, what actions can be taken to help families that are still struggling to make the transition from welfare to work, and what can be done to help low-income working families advance to better jobs and increase their income.
Brookings is sponsoring this discussion to mark the publication of a book containing analyses of these and other aspects of welfare reform by leading scholars and policy analysts, titled Welfare Reform and Beyond: The Future of the Safety Net. The chapters in the volume (based on a series of policy briefs published over the past year) examine the results of the 1996 reforms and contain specific ideas and options that Congress may want to consider during the reauthorization debate this year. The volume was edited by Isabel Sawhill, R. Kent Weaver, Ron Haskins, and Andrea Kane.