Vermont’s Welfare Restructuring Project (WRP) was one of the earliest statewide reform programs initiated under waivers of federal welfare rules granted before the passage of the 1996 federal welfare reform law. Operating statewide from 1994 to 2001, WRP required single-parent welfare recipients to work in a wage-paying job after they had received cash assistance for 30 months, and it offered minimum-wage community service jobs to those who could not find regular, unsubsidized jobs. If a recipient did not comply with the work requirement, the state took control of her grant, used the money to pay her bills, and required her to attend frequent meetings at the welfare office. The program also included modest financial work incentives to encourage and reward work. Vermont’s current welfare program shares many features with WRP.
MDRC evaluated WRP under contract to the State of Vermont. Between 1994 and 1996, welfare applicants and recipients were assigned at random to WRP or to the Aid to Needy Families with Children (ANFC) group, which remained subject to the prior welfare rules. (A third group received WRP’s incentives but was not subject to the work requirement.) WRP’s effects were estimated by comparing how the groups fared over a six-year follow-up period.