In a review of Robert Nisbet's "The Quest for Community", Ross Douthat identifies the dilemma conservatives need to face when addressing the welfare state:
Once the bonds of community have frayed, is it enough to merely withdraw the power of the state, and watch communities reknit themselves? Will the two-parent family revive, for instance, if antipoverty programs are pared away? Are there countless versions of, say, the Mormon Church’s welfare network waiting to spring up, if only the heavy hand of the state relaxes itself? Or is it possible that once community has frayed sufficiently, the state cannot simply withdraw itself without risking disintegration—but must, perforce, play an active role in the revival of civil society, by seeking to reduce the demand for government before it reduces the supply?
I tend to think that the state must indeed play an active role in "reducing the demand for government before it reduces the supply". Much can be done, for instance, to incentivize marriage and family - and to reduce destructive and pathological behaviors - before removing public assistance from dependent children and their non-working parent(s).