• family;
  • poverty;
  • qualitative research;
  • rural;
  • welfare reform

We looked closely at families who remain in persistent deep poverty in the remote rural areas of one state, using welfare reform as the contextual backdrop. We examined the lives of 10 women who have participated in this qualitative research for over 6 years. The woman heading each family was a welfare program participant; she engaged (more or less) in the process mandated by the state for an orderly exit from welfare; and today she is caring for herself and her family without welfare. Human ecology and systems theories are used to help explain the choices made by these women as they often faced insurmountable barriers to finding and retaining jobs.