In order to encourage and stimulate the cross-fertilization of ideas across states, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked the Urban Institute to document key practices and strategies states have used thus far to make their welfare systems more employment focused, particularly with respect to strategies emphasizing quick entry into the labor market. Six local sites in five states were selected for intensive examination:
Indiana: Indianapolis (pop. 817,604) and Scottsburg (pop. 22,528)
Massachusetts: Worcester (pop. 718,858)
Oregon: Portland (pop. 614,104)
Virginia: Culpeper (pop. 30,528)
Wisconsin: Racine (pop. 182,982)
These states were chosen for in-depth analysis because they exemplify a mix of different strategies to achieve the common goal of increasing employment among welfare recipients. The states vary in terms of the average cash payment they provide recipients—Indiana and Virginia are fairly low grant states while Massachusetts, Oregon and Wisconsin provide relatively high grants.
In recent years, all of...