Access to higher education for welfare recipients: An analysis of welfare policy development designed by national and state policymakers

Brenda Dann-Messier, Johnson & Wales University

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the rationale for respective decisions made at the national level and by one state chosen for review concerning postsecondary education as an allowable work activity in the current welfare legislation (Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity and Reconciliation Act of 1996). The researcher conducted in-depth unstructured interviews with twelve prominent policymakers at the national level and in one state to identify primary decision-makers, major factors that influenced their decisions, and if these decisions could be explored anew. All twelve informants were directly involved in welfare policy development and provided insights on why postsecondary education was restricted at the national level and limited to 24 months at the state level. ^ The data analysis revealed that welfare policy was constructed at both the national and state level based on politics and on the economy. The lack of research in this area and the absence of higher education officials participating in the decision making process also affected the decision to restrict or to limit postsecondary education as an allowable work activity. ^ Six recommendations evolved from this study targeted at promoting the expansion of postsecondary educational opportunities for welfare recipients. These recommendations could lead to a change in the federal definition of work to include postsecondary education as an allowable work activity. At the state level the recommendations to extend participation in postsecondary education, beyond the 24 months currently allowed, would enable eligible welfare recipients to complete the requirements for a bachelor's degrees. ^

Subject Area

Education, Adult and Continuing|Sociology, Public and Social Welfare|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Brenda Dann-Messier, "Access to higher education for welfare recipients: An analysis of welfare policy development designed by national and state policymakers" (January 1, 2000). Dissertation & Theses Collection. Paper AAI3106403.
http://scholarsarchive.jwu.edu/dissertations/AAI3106403

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