Experts Tackle Effectiveness of Welfare Reform at Symposium on 'Fighting Poverty in the Post-Welfare Era'

By limiting lifetime welfare benefits to sixty months, the Welfare Reform Act of August 1996 abolished the safety net needy families had relied on for the past six decades. Academics and practitioners have been engaged in a heated debate about the likely impacts of welfare reform. Will states succeed in moving people from welfare to jobs, especially if there is an economic downturn? What kind of support policies are needed to enable welfare recipients to get and keep a job? How can we create enough jobs at a living wage? And which policies will be most effective to support people who fall through the cracks of welfare reform?

The Center for Leadership and Public Interest Advocacy has invited four prominent experts with opposing points of view to examine the success or failure of current directions in welfare policy and to debate both the likely outcome of current reforms and what actions should be taken now to address the persistence of poverty in the fifty states. The symposium, titled "Fighting Poverty in the Post-Welfare Era: A Debate," will take place April 24 at 7:30 pm in the art museum's Gamble Auditorium.

Moderated by New York Times reporter Jason DeParle, who has written extensively on welfare and social issues, the debate will include these panelists: Mary Jo Bane, the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Diane Dujon, Center for Community and Public Service, UMass/Boston; Frances Fox Piven, City University of New York; and, Lawrence Mead, New York University.

"No issue goes to the heart of what role government can or should play regarding the well-being of our citizens more than the effectiveness of programs aimed at giving the disadvantaged the options and opportunities to live decent, productive lives," said center director Eva Paus. "The Center for Leadership and Public Interest Advocacy is committed to fostering solid understandings of the key issues facing our society and of the different approaches toward solving them as a necessary condition for both effective public interest advocacy and decision-making in the private sector."

For more information regarding this event, check the center's web page at