Make a Difference

Gary MacDougal, Author Truman Talley Books $29.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-312-25223-6
Since the enactment of the federal welfare reform law of 1996, much of the responsibility for welfare has been shifted to the states. MacDougal chaired a governor-appointed task force (1993-1997) to revamp Illinois's welfare system, and in this buoyantly optimistic report, he contends that the Illinois model, though still a work in progress, can serve as a blueprint for other states. A former CEO of a Fortune 1000 electronics company, and a self-described conservative Republican, MacDougal favors federal block grants to states, combined with broad flexibility at the city, county and community levels in how the funds should be allocated. To critics who fear that the states will use block grants irresponsibly, he replies that most governors have done a fine job in the first phase of welfare reform. And to critics who view workfare as a demeaning scheme offering poor wages and benefits, he counters that an ex-welfare recipient's first job is only the first step on the ladder to self-sufficiency. MacDougal calls the Illinois reform drive bipartisan, and some of his proposals seem surprisingly innovative: for example, reorienting the focus to involve the whole family, including the noncustodial parents of welfare children, and creating job training and placement opportunities even for hard-to-place male ex-felons, combined with stringent child support enforcement and a stronger paternity establishment process. MacDougal's suggestions for eliminating mountains of paperwork, harmonizing eligibility requirements and using a computerized information management system to coordinate the fragmented activities of a welter of human service agencies and programs makes his book, despite its leaden prose and padded narrative, useful to policymakers, antipoverty workers and administrators. 16 pages photos. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-312-27354-5
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!