Welfare in Utah: What Programs are Available and How Have Federal Reforms Affected Them?


In 1996, promising to “end welfare as we know it,” President Bill Clinton signed into law The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). By so doing, the landscape of government assistance to the poor was radically altered. Low-income individuals were no longer provided with lifetime monetary subsidies from the federal government. Instead, state governments were given block grant funding to implement programs to assist this population. While cash payments to individuals continue to make up a portion of the help offered, states were encouraged to design welfare programs that stressed work by recipients. States were to provide services such as childcare, medical insurance and housing assistance, considered critical to keep low-income workers in the labor market. States were also charged with the responsibility to offer job training and educational opportunities so that welfare recipients could improve their skill levels and fully make the transition into the labor force. Finally, the federal government set limits so, without a waiver, those on welfare could only receive 60 months’ worth of assistance. States were then allowed to set their own limits on the amount of time a person could receive payments.

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