Implementing Welfare-to-Work Services: A Study of Staff Decision-Making


In the post-welfare reform era, increased discretion has been given to frontline staff for day-today welfare policy implementation. To determine how frontline staff address the complex needs of welfare program participants in this new policy environment, the decision-making processes of welfare staff (N = 52) in 11 San Francisco Bay Area county social service agencies were assessed through a case vignette using a Web-based survey design. We examined staff decision making in four areas: problem recognition, goal formulation, information search processes, and evaluation. The results suggest that the high level of staff discretion apparent in the day-to-day implementation of welfare policy may have important implications for participants. Several recommendations for policy, practice, and future research are presented.

Johnson, M.A.
Chow, J.C.
Ketch, V.
Austin, M.J.
Publication date: 
January 1, 2006
Publication type: 
Journal Article