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At 10-Year Mark, Welfare Reform Gets Tougher


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It’s been 10 years since President Clinton signed the landmark welfare reform law that emphasized moving welfare recipients from welfare to work. In the past decade, welfare rolls nationwide shrank dramatically from 12.2 million to 4.5 million and caseloads declined by 45 percent. In San Diego, the number of families receiving welfare dropped from 63,000 to 23,000. But critics say numbers don’t tell the whole story. 

Advocates for the poor say welfare reform has left many poor families without a safety net and caused them major hardships. Now, even tougher welfare reform laws are due to take effect next month. The changes could put California at risk of losing federal funding. How has San Diego County fared under welfare reform and what impacts will the new rules have? Full Focus explores those questions. 


  • Rene Santiago, San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.
  • William Oswald, Human Services Professor, Springfield College and leader of Caring Council.


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