The Welfare Reform Act of 1996, also known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, was a welfare reform bill that was passed into law by President Bill Clinton. This Act created widespread controversy and was protested by many minority groups, religious groups, and women's rights activists.
The Welfare Reform Act significantly reduced the ease through which families could acquire welfare benefits, through programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This legislation established strict guidelines and regulations that governed the welfare program. These regulations diminished the duration of time that a family was able to continue receiving welfare benefits and increased the effort that was required for them to maintain these benefits.
One of the primary purposes of the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 was to encourage families to move from welfare, back to work. In order to achieve this, the Welfare Reform Act instated rigid work requirements. Within two years of acquiring welfare benefits, the head of a family must secure a job. If this is not achieved, the family will not be permitted to continue obtaining these benefits.
In addition, after two months of receiving welfare assistance, the adults within the family will be required to perform community service. The community service requirement will be waived if an adult has attained employment. An family is only permitted to receive welfare benefits for a duration of five consecutive years. Each state is able to change these regulations slightly. For example, a state can choose to negate the community service requirement.