This article highlights the scope of cash welfare as a poverty program and the policy context that led to the legislative distinctions between pre- and post-1996. Trends in welfare, employment, and poverty for single-mother families are presented, as are hypotheses that guide studies of the effects of welfare reform. Social science and policy research on how the reforms have affected economic outcomes, how reform has been implemented, and how it affects children are highlighted. I next summarize research on child care subsidies, an example of an effective family support that was part of welfare reform. I also highlight lessons from studies of recipient perspectives and those focused on how leavers get by without welfare. I identify gaps in understanding the reduced role of cash welfare for low-income families and offer continuing policy and research questions for addressing poverty in the current economic crisis and recovery.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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