Congress passed legislation in 1988 requiring welfare recipients to join a job-training or education program. In one of the first large-scale assessments since then, researchers in California reported this week that reforms there have raised the earnings of welfare recipients and reduced state payouts. That's encouraging news for Maryland and other states.
The California study found that those who participated in welfare-to-work programs earned 17 percent more than those who did not, and that welfare payments to participants were 5 percent lower than to non-participants.
The emerging consensus among policy makers is that government public assistance programs must discourage long-term welfare dependency while remaining part of the nation's social safety net. In Maryland, notable strides have been made through Project Independence, which offers child care and job training to welfare recipients who participate in the program. But the education and training slots available are relatively small.