Charitable Choice and Faith-Based Welfare: A Call for Social Work

Ram A. Cnaan, Stephanie C. Boddie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 work involvement is made.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-235
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Work
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Charitable choice
  • Religion
  • Social services
  • Welfare reform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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