Departmental Papers (SPP)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version



The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 contains a little known section referred to as "Charitable Choice." This section encourages states to involve community and faith-based organizations in providing federally funded welfare services. Most social workers are unfamiliar with this part of the legislation and its far-reaching implications for society as a whole and for the social work profession as it opens the door for mixing religion and publicly supported social services provision. This article reviews how Charitable Choice has shifted the way government engages faith-based organizations in social services delivery. A review of the public discourse and research findings regarding the relevance and implementation of Charitable Choice is also presented. Implications for social work are discussed, and a call for social involvement is made.


Reprinted from Social Work, Volume 47, Issue 3, 2002, pages 224-235.
The authors assert their right to include this material in the ScholarlyCommons@Penn.


charitable choice, religion, social services, welfare reform

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Social Work Commons



Date Posted: 21 November 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.