© 2023 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

'American Dream': A Welfare Reform Odyssey

Correspondent Cheryl Devall talks with New York Times reporter Jason DeParle about the struggles of women who have gotten off welfare -- a seven-year odyssey he chronicles in his new book American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation's Drive to End Welfare.

Nearly a decade has passed since President Clinton and Congress vowed to end "welfare as we know it." A Republican-controlled Congress passed -- and Democrat Clinton signed into law -- sweeping changes to the national welfare system that imposed a five-year limit on benefits, required able-bodied recipients to go to work after two years of getting benefits, and gave states incentives to create jobs for welfare recipients.

Jobs were supposed to be the way to a better life for women on welfare -- and for some, the welfare reform package led to a better life. But for many others, long hours at low-wage jobs caused even more pain. DeParle chronicles the struggles of three African-American women and their families with and without welfare benefits, and takes a hard look at how Washington policies often don't fit personal circumstances and economic reality.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.