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Whither Welfare Reform? Lessons from the Wisconsin Experience

Tuesday September 2004

Speakers: Jason DeParle, Author, American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare (Viking, 2004); Lawrence Mead, Author, Government Matters: Welfare Reform in Wisconsin (Princeton University Press, 2004); and Jason Turner, Former Commissioner, Dept. of Social Services, Human Resources Administration, New York City

Serious welfare reform started with Wisconsin’s federal waivers in the early 1990’s and reached its culmination with the state’s W-2 program at the end of that decade. Observers of all ideological persuasions agree that what happened in Wisconsin is crucial to understanding what welfare reform has achieved and in framing the questions we must answer for our future.

Our panelists are perhaps the most knowledgeable in the country on the Wisconsin experience and what it means for America. New York Times reporter Jason DeParle covered W-2’s implementation, closely following the lives of the women and families affected. New York University Professor Larry Mead is perhaps the nation’s top academic expert on the theory and implementation of the Wisconsin model, while Jason Turner was the chief official in charge of creating and implementing W-2 in Mayor Giuliani’s own welfare policy.