Poverty among children—and female-headed families—is much lower today than in 1996, when President Clinton signed a historic welfare reform bill. This drop would not have happened without that law and the way it interacted with an expansion of work supports.
- Welfare reform, in tandem with refundable tax credits for workers, helped to bring about a permanent, 10-percentage-point drop in child poverty.
- Welfare reform accomplished this by moving female-headed families away from government benefits, instead of adding more families to the rolls.
- Welfare-reform critics point to the dramatic decline in the welfare rolls over time to argue that the 1996 legislation was a mistake, but that misses the point: less poverty with lower welfare rolls should be the goal of antipoverty policy.