"Author Gary MacDougal spent months in Illinois inner cities and rural communities talking with the "ladies in the backyard," befriending community leaders, and working with local organizations in his quest to find solutions that have long eluded academic researchers and politicians. As Chairman of the Governor's Task Force on Human Services Reform, MacDougal was the catalyst for the complete overhaul of the state's welfare system, which included the largest reorganization of state government since 1900." "State caseworkers became problem solvers instead of distant gatekeepers to benefits; communities, including churches, schools, and employers, started working with government; and outcomes were rigorously measured. Welfare clients with problem-filled backgrounds, no job histories, and minimal education soon found employment." "Three years after MacDougal's suggestions were implemented, Illinois now stands well ahead of California, New York, and other big-city states with a 40 percent reduction in welfare rolls."--Jacket.