• The life cycle of welfare reform: Local renditions. A comparative case study of the implementation of the work requirements of TANF

      Crawley-Woods, Geraldine Rose Ann; Orlin, Malinda B. (2000)
      The passage of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) resulted in the replacement of the federal entitlement program of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) by the block-grant Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. The new law emphasized work requirements, time-limits, and temporary cash assistance. It shifted the locus of responsibility and control for a program targeted to poor women and their children from the federal to the. state and local levels. As the states have moved to implement the new legislation in local jurisdictions, adjustments have been required of program participants and delivery systems.;Restructuring services and socializing staff to focus on employability rather than eligibility affects local agencies as well as participants. Nathan (1993) and others (Brodkin, 1997; Elmore 1982) have taken the position that the "ground troops" of local bureaucracies hold the key to the successful implementation of legislative initiatives. The premise of this study is that implementation choices influence the impact and outcomes of programs put in place. In comparing the process across jurisdictions, this research identifies the salient features and documents and assesses the progressive institutionalization of PRWORA mandated reforms into the existing welfare programs. Utilizing a comparative case study methodology, this study traces the intraorganizational processes of the local implementation of the work requirements of TANF in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia from a bottom-up perspective (Schram, 1995). This research is based on structured and unstructured interviews with line workers, supervisory staff, administrators and providers of vendor services, field observations, and review of documents. It concludes that: the organizational cultures of the agencies under study have indeed altered and positively affect the success of micro implementation efforts; distinctive state patterns emerge in the implementation of the work requirements of TANF and are mirrored in localities; and that devolution has occurred unevenly across states, reflected in more decentralized strategies in Maryland and Virginia than in West Virginia. Further findings establish a life cycle of reform through phases of initiation, expansion and institutionalization and a link between implementation strategies and outcome measures.