David Stoesz


Passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWOA) of 1996 presents an opportunity to reinvent human services in America. For more than a decade, the welfare bureaucracy and public assistance programs of state welfare have been in crisis. The clients who depend on welfare detest it, finding and keeping qualified professionals to work in the public social services has become an administrative headache, and taxpayers perceive welfare as a fiscal black hole that perpetuates immorality. The recent decision to "devolve" welfare in a block grant to states underscores the urgency to rethink public assistance to poor families. There is good reason to be concerned about the social consequences of devolution and the replacement of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). However, this transformation of welfare also presents an important opportunity to replace inferior benefits and services provided through an antiquated welfare bureaucracy with a new infrastructure for human services. This monograph illustrates how human services can be reinvented, using Virginia as a prototype.