Review of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) is a federal law considered to be a major welfare reform. It was signed into law on Aug. 22, 1996, by President Clinton.

The law contains strong work requirements, a performance bonus to reward states for moving welfare recipients into jobs, state maintenance of effort requirements, comprehensive child support enforcement and supports for families moving from welfare to work – including increased funding for child care and guaranteed medical coverage.

Among its provisions, PRWORA required each state to operate a child support enforcement program meeting federal requirements. Provisions include:

  • National new hire reporting system.
    The law established a Federal Case Registry and National Directory of New Hires to track delinquent parents across state lines. It also required that employers report all new hires to state agencies for transmittal of new hire information to the National Directory of New Hires. The law also expanded and streamlined procedures for direct withholding of child support from wages.

  • Computerized state-wide collections.
    The law required states to establish central registries of child support orders and centralized collection and disbursement units. It also required expedited state procedures for child support enforcement.

  • Streamlined paternity establishment.
    The law streamlined the legal process for paternity establishment, making it easier and faster to establish paternities.

  • Uniform interstate child support laws.
    The law provided for uniform rules, procedures and forms for interstate cases.