Work-related requirements—such as employment, job search, job training, or community engagement activities—are currently a condition of eligibility for some safety net programs. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), housing assistance and Medicaid each include work-related requirements in some states or localities for some beneficiaries. Recent proposals would expand or introduce new work requirements in these and other safety net programs, which offer vital supports for families to meet their basic needs.
For parents, meeting work requirements to gain or maintain eligibility for safety net programs and access to vital supports is not as straightforward as simply engaging in the required work activities. Parents must not only understand what the requirements are, but be able to access the necessary training and supports to meet the requirements and document their compliance. If they qualify for an exemption, they must learn how to document this as well. Agencies administering safety net programs must be able to efficiently process each case.
This report illustrates and explores the complex pathways parents who are subject to work requirements must navigate to maintain their access to the safety net. Some pathways may lead families to maintain their access to benefits, while others could lead them to lose access to benefits for which they are still eligible. (Edited author abstract)