Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

William Boone, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Hashim Gibrill, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Ontario Wooden, Ph.D.


The Welfare Reform Bill Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 contains a section referred to as "Charitable Choice." This section was designed to ensure that faith-based agencies were not discriminated against in the awarding of federal funding. States are not required to implement any part of the initiative, except ensuring that there is no discrimination against faith-based organizations. States have responded in a variety of ways in the hope of increasing the number of faith-based organizations receiving and competing for social services funds. Although religious groups have been receiving government funds to provide social services for much of American history, the faith-based initiative represents a new effort from both state and federal government to encourage even greater participation. There has been a tremendous amount of research on the impact of the faith-based organizations; however, very little attention has been given to the non-religious based social service organizations.

To understand the impact of the faith-based implementation on non-religious based social service agencies, the primary focus was on examining: personnel, clientele, programs and services data, as well as internal and external factors. The secondary focus was determining if the implementation of the faith-based initiative signified the “second-order of devolution.” The study focused on three NBSSOs in Washington, D.C. Interviews were conducted with agency officials and data collected from all three agencies.

While supporters argue that the faith-based initiative is about solving problems of poverty, taxing an over-burdened welfare system and violating the constitution, the researcher found that there was no impact of the faith-based initiative on non-religious based social service organizations. The participating agencies had been impacted by elected officials, public policy and federal funding, however; research also shows that there was no evidence of a “second-order of devolution.” The expected outsourcing of public services and the creation of numerous models of welfare systems with a variety of public-private partnerships that included secular non-profit organizations, for-profit organizations and religious organizations had not occurred.