The author examined the initial two-year Massachusetts Welfare to Work plans to identify early signs of potential program strengths and weaknesses when the states were just beginning to implement it. She surveyed the then current literature that defines the work-first philosophy and its social context, outlining the essential elements of work-first programs for participants' success. The author then reviewed Massachusetts's sixteen regional plans to determine the degree to which they incorporated these elements in their program designs. Finally, she outlined the challenges, potential risks, and advantages that arise when national social policy shifts and local planners and policymakers must adapt theory to practice.



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