The enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act in 1996 signaled a dramatic shift in the nation’s approach to providing assistance to those among the country’s neediest populations. The concept of welfare in the United States shifted from cash assistance to economic self-sufficiency.
Rural welfare populations possess unique characteristics and face unique circumstances that will affect their ability to achieve the requirements and intent of welfare reform. To build knowledge and research about effective approaches in working with rural populations, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) awarded planning grants to ten states to help develop and study strategies to move rural families from welfare to work.
Although there are extensive bodies of literature both on rural matters and on welfare-related matters, there is relatively little information about rural welfare issues. This report synthesizes available knowledge and, where appropriate, draws inferences from studies about the ways that welfare reform is likely to affect rural welfare to work strategies.