Date of Conferral





Human Services


Barbara Benoliel


The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWORA) significantly affected many families by changing public assistance from an entitlement program to a work program for recipients and imposing a 60 month maximum period for receiving assistance. Unanticipated outcomes created deleterious results for many single parents. This multiple case study explored the experiences of four African American single mothers in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States receiving assistance regarding welfare reform, the welfare system and their perceptions of welfare advocacy. Black feminist and empowerment theories framed the study to examine how welfare policy changes affected African American women's families and their abilities to advocate. Data were collected from narrative interviews and artifacts provided by 4 participants and analyzed using thematic content analysis. The key findings demonstrate recipients who had no prior interest in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families advocacy found their voices when invited; offering insights about system challenges and successes as well as strategies for improvement This study will impact social change by informing policymakers, think-tank researchers, community program developers, and public assistance caseworkers for policy discussions regarding PRWORA. Women may also learn strategies for advocacy and organizing from the analysis.