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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Hahn, Heather ; Coffey, Amelia; Pratt, Eleanor
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    The District of Columbia is changing its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance program to promote better long-term outcomes for families and children. The most recent change, implemented April 2018, is an end to the five-year limit for full benefits. Previously, families who received benefits received reduced cash assistance after 60 months in the program. They will now receive the full amount.

    This report features the perspectives of 19 women in DC who shared their experiences raising children in poverty and receiving reduced TANF cash assistance because they had exceeded the five-year limit at the time of our January 2018 interviews. Their reflections can help develop a clearer picture of why people turn to TANF, how they experience the program, and how the program can help them support their families and their children’s futures. They can also help other jurisdictions better understand the experiences of women receiving TANF cash assistance to reshape policies, services, and practices to better meet families’ needs.

    A snapshot of...

    The District of Columbia is changing its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance program to promote better long-term outcomes for families and children. The most recent change, implemented April 2018, is an end to the five-year limit for full benefits. Previously, families who received benefits received reduced cash assistance after 60 months in the program. They will now receive the full amount.

    This report features the perspectives of 19 women in DC who shared their experiences raising children in poverty and receiving reduced TANF cash assistance because they had exceeded the five-year limit at the time of our January 2018 interviews. Their reflections can help develop a clearer picture of why people turn to TANF, how they experience the program, and how the program can help them support their families and their children’s futures. They can also help other jurisdictions better understand the experiences of women receiving TANF cash assistance to reshape policies, services, and practices to better meet families’ needs.

    A snapshot of women’s personal reflections on TANF in DC

    The women we spoke with had participated in DC’s TANF program for at least five years. Each woman’s story is unique, but together, they paint a picture of mothers wanting to support their children and offer them bright futures.

    Unable to maintain stable, well-paid employment and with limited social supports, they had no choice but to turn to TANF cash assistance and other public supports. They wanted to find jobs that would offer stability and the ability to support their families without public assistance. For the most part, they felt that the employment services provided through TANF did not help them move toward this goal, although some have noticed recent program improvements.

    They explained the challenges (e.g., transportation, flexible child care arrangements, and limited qualifications) that make it difficult for them to find and keep stable jobs with family-sustaining wages. They described the vital role TANF cash assistance plays in providing for their families, but they also described their often-negative experiences at TANF service centers, including hostile relationships with eligibility staff.

    The women began receiving TANF before the program’s recent changes, and when we spoke with them, they were receiving reduced cash assistance because of the time limit on receiving the full benefit amount. Many of them expected that once they began receiving the full benefit amount, their families would have an easier time getting by, but they worried that the policy would change again in the future.

    The DC Department of Human Services is committed to service improvements

    The DC Department of Human Services (DHS), which administers TANF, has made various service improvements in the past several years, and more extensive changes are under way. Two years ago, the DHS surveyed its customers and began making changes based on their recommendations. The department shifted away from a one-size-fits-all model of service delivery to using a coaching model, developing individual plans with customers, increasing cash assistance, and improving other services.

    The department is reshaping its services and changing its policies because it believes that if families are supported with more income for children, parents can focus on achieving their goals. Further, the DHS is committed to continuous improvement and has listened to and acted on the recommendations of the people who use their services. (Author abstract)

     

  • Individual Author: Thompson, Megan; Minton, Sarah; Heffernan, Christine; Giannarelli, Linda
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    This brief is a companion to the 2016 Welfare Rules Databook and provides a graphical overview of selected state policy differences for TANF cash assistance. The policies are taken from the Welfare Rules Database (WRD), a database maintained by the Urban Institute and funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the Administration for Child and Families in the US Department of Health and Human Services.

    The WRD is a comprehensive resource for comparing cash assistance programs across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, researching changes across time in cash assistance rules within a single state or determining the rules governing cash assistance in one state at a point in time. The WRD provides in-depth information on a wide range of policy topics.

    The brief describes and presents policies related to initial eligibility, benefit amounts, and ongoing eligibility. The brief also provides information about additional resources available from the WRD. (Author abstract)

    This brief is a companion to the 2016 Welfare Rules Databook and provides a graphical overview of selected state policy differences for TANF cash assistance. The policies are taken from the Welfare Rules Database (WRD), a database maintained by the Urban Institute and funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the Administration for Child and Families in the US Department of Health and Human Services.

    The WRD is a comprehensive resource for comparing cash assistance programs across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, researching changes across time in cash assistance rules within a single state or determining the rules governing cash assistance in one state at a point in time. The WRD provides in-depth information on a wide range of policy topics.

    The brief describes and presents policies related to initial eligibility, benefit amounts, and ongoing eligibility. The brief also provides information about additional resources available from the WRD. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hetling, Andrea; Baehler, Karen; Kazmi, Rafay
    Reference Type: Conference Paper
    Year: 2017

    This presentation is from the 2017 NAWRS conference and discusses variations in states' approaches with regard to federal time-limit exemptions and extensions.

    This presentation is from the 2017 NAWRS conference and discusses variations in states' approaches with regard to federal time-limit exemptions and extensions.

  • Individual Author: Hahn, Heather; Adams, Gina; Spaulding, Shayne; Heller, Caroline
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2016

    Low-income families receiving cash assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) also need assistance with workforce development and child care. Workforce development and child care subsidy systems support low-income families and individuals, but are TANF families well served by these systems? This report outlines the opportunities that the workforce development and child care subsidy systems offer, highlights the challenges of meeting the complex needs of these highly disadvantaged families, and identifies implications for federal and state policy improvements. (Author abstract)

    Low-income families receiving cash assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) also need assistance with workforce development and child care. Workforce development and child care subsidy systems support low-income families and individuals, but are TANF families well served by these systems? This report outlines the opportunities that the workforce development and child care subsidy systems offer, highlights the challenges of meeting the complex needs of these highly disadvantaged families, and identifies implications for federal and state policy improvements. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Patton, Deleena; Shah, Melissa; Felver, Barbara; Beall, Kathryn
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2015

    This report describes key outcomes for parents and children who left TANF before and after recent program changes, including changes to the criteria for time limit extensions. WorkFirst cases make up a decreasing share of the TANF caseload relative to child-only cases, as a greater proportion of WorkFirst families leave and do not return. Relative to other groups of WorkFirst leavers, those who left due to time limits had high rates of baseline health risk but were less likely to transition to disability-related medical coverage. Time limited leavers and those who took longer to leave the caseload also faced greater barriers to work but remained connected to supports and services. (author abstract)

    This report describes key outcomes for parents and children who left TANF before and after recent program changes, including changes to the criteria for time limit extensions. WorkFirst cases make up a decreasing share of the TANF caseload relative to child-only cases, as a greater proportion of WorkFirst families leave and do not return. Relative to other groups of WorkFirst leavers, those who left due to time limits had high rates of baseline health risk but were less likely to transition to disability-related medical coverage. Time limited leavers and those who took longer to leave the caseload also faced greater barriers to work but remained connected to supports and services. (author abstract)

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