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  • Individual Author: Rosso, Randy; Castner, Laura
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2000

    This report provides information about the demographic and economic circumstances of food stamp households. On average, about 19.8 million people living in 8.2 million households received food stamps in the United States each month in fiscal year 1998. Food stamp households are a diverse group. Because food stamps are available to most low-income households with few resources, regardless of age, disability status, or family structure, recipients represent a broad cross-section of the nation's poor.

    • Most food stamp recipients are children or elderly. Over half (53 percent) are children and another 8 percent are age 60 or older. Working-age women represent 28 percent of the caseload, while working-age men represent 11 percent.

    • The majority of food stamp households do not receive TANF benefits. Only 31 percent do so. Other cash assistance received by food stamp households includes Supplemental Security Income (28 percent of households), Social Security (23 percent) and State General...

    This report provides information about the demographic and economic circumstances of food stamp households. On average, about 19.8 million people living in 8.2 million households received food stamps in the United States each month in fiscal year 1998. Food stamp households are a diverse group. Because food stamps are available to most low-income households with few resources, regardless of age, disability status, or family structure, recipients represent a broad cross-section of the nation's poor.

    • Most food stamp recipients are children or elderly. Over half (53 percent) are children and another 8 percent are age 60 or older. Working-age women represent 28 percent of the caseload, while working-age men represent 11 percent.

    • The majority of food stamp households do not receive TANF benefits. Only 31 percent do so. Other cash assistance received by food stamp households includes Supplemental Security Income (28 percent of households), Social Security (23 percent) and State General Assistance benefits (6 percent). Nine percent of households have no income of any kind.

    • Many food stamp recipients work. Twenty-six percent of food stamp households have earnings, and for these households, earnings are the primary source of income.

    • Food stamp households have little income. Only 10 percent are above the poverty line, while 37 percent have incomes at or below half the poverty line. The typical food stamp household had gross income of $584 per month and received a monthly food stamp benefit of $165. Over one-fifth of monthly available funds (cash income plus food stamps) available to a typical household comes from food stamps.

    • Food stamp households possess few resources. The average food stamp household possesses only about $118 in countable resources (including vehicles, checking and savings accounts, and other savings).

    • Most food stamp households are small. The average food stamp household size was 2.4, but varied considerably by household composition. Households with children were relatively large, averaging 3.3 members. Households with elderly members tended to be smaller, with an average size of 1.3 people.

    (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Kaye, Kelleen; Nightingale, Demetra Smith
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2000

    Increased emphasis on moving welfare recipients into employment as a result of welfare reform has raised questions about the labor market facing low-wage workers. What are the characteristics of this market (as opposed to the labor market as a whole)? Will it be able to absorb the welfare leavers? How is it affected by changes in the larger economy? What opportunities do low-wage workers have for advancement once they enter the labor market?

    To help policy makers answer these questions, nine papers by experts in labor market analysis were commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, to review current literature on the low-wage market and highlight policy implications that flow from the review. (The Data Appendix provides a statistical portrait of the labor market as a whole and the characteristics of low-wage workers.)

    The important role of the low-wage labor market as welfare recipients and other economically disadvantaged persons move into employment is clear from the evidence...

    Increased emphasis on moving welfare recipients into employment as a result of welfare reform has raised questions about the labor market facing low-wage workers. What are the characteristics of this market (as opposed to the labor market as a whole)? Will it be able to absorb the welfare leavers? How is it affected by changes in the larger economy? What opportunities do low-wage workers have for advancement once they enter the labor market?

    To help policy makers answer these questions, nine papers by experts in labor market analysis were commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, to review current literature on the low-wage market and highlight policy implications that flow from the review. (The Data Appendix provides a statistical portrait of the labor market as a whole and the characteristics of low-wage workers.)

    The important role of the low-wage labor market as welfare recipients and other economically disadvantaged persons move into employment is clear from the evidence marshaled in the review. There is a strong consensus that this labor market will be able to absorb people leaving the rolls, as long as the economy retains its current strength. However, there is often little opportunity for job advancement in this market. Suggestions made by the authors for improving economic opportunity for low-wage workers include ways to increase wages and sustain income directly, improve labor market access and job retention, support occupational mobility and job advancement, and enhance employment security. (author abstract)

    Table of Contents

    Introduction and Overview/ Kelleen Kaye and Demetra Smith Nightingale

    Section I: What is the Low-Wage Labor Market and Has It Changed Over Time?

    • Defining and Characterizing the Low-Wage Labor Market/ Jared Bernstein and Heidi Hartmann
    • Low-Wage Labor Markets:  The Business Cycle and Regional Differences/ David M. Smith and Stephen A. Woodbury

    Section II:  Policies Affecting the Low-Wage Labor Market

    • Can the Labor Market Absorb Three Million Welfare Recipients?/ Gary Burtless
    • Does the Minimum Wage Help or Hurt Low-Wage Workers?/ Mark D. Turner
    • Job Creation for Low-Wage Workers:  An Assessment of Public Service Jobs, Tax Credits, and Empowerment Zones/ Burt S. Barnow

    Section III:  Barriers to Entering the Low-Wage Labor Market

    • Matching and Mismatch in the Low-wage Labor Market:  Hiring Perspective/ Harry Holzer
    • Matching and Mismatch in the Low-wage Labor Market:  Job Search Perspective/ Julia R. Henly

    Section IV:  Barriers to Advancement in the Low-Wage Labor Market

    • Work as a Stepping Stone for Low-Skilled Workers:  What is the Evidence?/ Peter Gottschalk
    • The Role of Job Turnover in the Low-Wage Labor Market/ Julia Lane

    APPENDIX:  Statistical Data and Background Information

    • Overall Labor Market
    • Factors Affecting Low-Wage Employment
    • Description of the Working Poor
    • Health Insurance and Other Benefits
  • Individual Author: Pindus, Nancy; Koralek, Robin; Martinson, Karin; Trutko, John
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2000

    The policy context for both welfare programs and employment and training programs operated by the workforce development system has changed dramatically in the past few years.  The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 requires welfare agencies to focus more than in the past on moving welfare recipients into employment.  PRWORA provides funding to welfare agencies in the form of a block grant, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), to support efforts to achieve this objective.  The need to move more TANF clients into work activities and jobs means that TANF agencies need to expand or develop structural and organizational arrangements that make this possible, including coordinating with the workforce development system.

    The Welfare-to-Work (WtW) Grants Program provides additional funding to serve welfare recipients, but the resources flow through the employment and training system, now commonly called the workforce development system.  WtW creates new incentives for the workforce development system to coordinate with the...

    The policy context for both welfare programs and employment and training programs operated by the workforce development system has changed dramatically in the past few years.  The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 requires welfare agencies to focus more than in the past on moving welfare recipients into employment.  PRWORA provides funding to welfare agencies in the form of a block grant, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), to support efforts to achieve this objective.  The need to move more TANF clients into work activities and jobs means that TANF agencies need to expand or develop structural and organizational arrangements that make this possible, including coordinating with the workforce development system.

    The Welfare-to-Work (WtW) Grants Program provides additional funding to serve welfare recipients, but the resources flow through the employment and training system, now commonly called the workforce development system.  WtW creates new incentives for the workforce development system to coordinate with the welfare system on behalf of welfare recipients.  The workforce development system is also changing, moving towards universal access to employment related services and the use of technology to serve job seekers and employers better.

    States and localities are responding to this dynamic environment in different ways, and their responses reflect historical relationships as well as current policy objectives.  This study builds on earlier research in the area of service coordination and integration, and provides a current description of local operational interaction between welfare and workforce development programs.  It is based on a review of the literature and site visits to twelve localities in six states.  The main intent is to add to the understanding about how welfare recipients receive employment-related services.  The study identifies different approaches to coordination, the advantages of coordination for clients, and factors that promote and impede coordination. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Freedman, Stephen; Friedlander, Daniel; Hamilton, Gayle; Rock, JoAnn; Mitchell, Marisa; Nudelman, Jodi; Schweder, Amanda; Storto, Laura
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2000

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of August 19961 ended the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, one of the nation’s principal safety nets for poor families. Among its provisions, the law replaced AFDC with a block grant program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and created financial incentives for states to run mandatory, work-focused welfare-to-work programs. While these types of programs are not new, various aspects of the 1996 law increase their importance: federal funds now may not be used to support most families on welfare for longer than five years and a number of states and localities have shorter welfare time limits; states face financial penalties if they fail to meet TANF-defined “participation standards,” which require large proportions of welfare recipients to be in work or...

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of August 19961 ended the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, one of the nation’s principal safety nets for poor families. Among its provisions, the law replaced AFDC with a block grant program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and created financial incentives for states to run mandatory, work-focused welfare-to-work programs. While these types of programs are not new, various aspects of the 1996 law increase their importance: federal funds now may not be used to support most families on welfare for longer than five years and a number of states and localities have shorter welfare time limits; states face financial penalties if they fail to meet TANF-defined “participation standards,” which require large proportions of welfare recipients to be in work or work-related activities; and states must have a plan for how they will require recipients to work after two years of assistance.

    To meet the new challenges of the federal welfare legislation, state and local administrators and policy makers need to know about the types of welfare-to-work program approaches that can quickly move substantial numbers of people into work and off welfare. This report provides such guidance, by analyzing the effectiveness of 11 mandatory welfare-to-work programs operated in seven locales. The sites included in the evaluation are Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Portland, Oregon; and Riverside, California. 

    The report is one in a series from an evaluation of the programs called the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS), conducted by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with support from the U.S. Department of Education. Child Trends, as a subcontractor, is conducting the analyses of outcomes for young children (the Child Outcomes Study). Two other recent reports (both also published in 2000 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families and Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, and the U.S. Department of Education) should be viewed as “companion” documents to this report: Impacts on Young Children and Their Families Two Years After Enrollment: Findings from the Child Outcomes Study, prepared by Sharon M. McGroder, Martha J. Zaslow, Kristin A. Moore, and Suzanne M. LeMenestrel, Child Trends; and Do Mandatory Welfare-to-Work Programs Affect the Well-Being of Children? A Synthesis of Child Research Conducted as Part of the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies, prepared by Gayle Hamilton, MDRC, with Stephen Freedman, MDRC, and Sharon M. McGroder, Child Trends.

    Each of the 11 studied programs operated under the federal Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program, which preceded TANF. Unlike TANF, these programs did not impose a time limit on eligibility for welfare assistance. However, they shared TANF’s primary goal of moving welfare recipients into paid work and off assistance. Further, among the 11 programs some are strongly employment-focused, the welfare-to-work strategy favored under TANF, and some are strongly basic education-focused, an approach possible under TANF but more prevalent during the late 1980s and early 1990s. (Overall, the present results pertain to the period between 1991 and 1996.) The programs varied in other ways, including how broadly the participation mandate was applied to the welfare caseload and how strictly it was enforced, the amount of child care support provided for program participation or employment, and methods of case management. The programs also served different welfare populations and operated in a variety of labor markets. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hamilton, Gayle; Freedman, Stephen; McGroder, Sharon M.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2000

    Since its inception the primary goal of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, as well as successor programs funded under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), has been to provide government support for poor children. Over the years, this public assistance has become more and more predicated on custodial parents' involvement in work or mandatory welfare-to-work program activities, as policymakers have sought to balance the goal of fostering poor children's well-being with that of encouraging adults' self-sufficiency. Currently, there are strong incentives for states to run mandatory, work-focused welfare-to-work programs: States face financial penalties if they fail to meet TANF-defined participation standards, which require large proportions of welfare recipients to be working or in work-related activities, and states must require recipients to work after two years of assistance. In addition, federal funds now may not be used to support most families on welfare for longer than five years, and a number of states and localities have shorter welfare...

    Since its inception the primary goal of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, as well as successor programs funded under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), has been to provide government support for poor children. Over the years, this public assistance has become more and more predicated on custodial parents' involvement in work or mandatory welfare-to-work program activities, as policymakers have sought to balance the goal of fostering poor children's well-being with that of encouraging adults' self-sufficiency. Currently, there are strong incentives for states to run mandatory, work-focused welfare-to-work programs: States face financial penalties if they fail to meet TANF-defined participation standards, which require large proportions of welfare recipients to be working or in work-related activities, and states must require recipients to work after two years of assistance. In addition, federal funds now may not be used to support most families on welfare for longer than five years, and a number of states and localities have shorter welfare time limits.

    This document examines the effects of welfare-to-work programs on the children of the adults (almost all single mothers) mandated to participate in such programs. Synthesizing the results from two recently completed reports from a large-scale evaluation — the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS Evaluation) — the two-year effects of 11 welfare-to-work programs that operated in seven sites in the early to mid 1990s are summarized.(1) The sites included in the evaluation are Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Portland, Oregon; and Riverside, California. While the programs operated under the federal Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program that preceded TANF, and thus did not invoke a time limit on eligibility for welfare, they shared TANF's primary goal of moving welfare recipients into paid work and off assistance, and they reflect a range of approaches, implementation features, and environments: Some were strongly employment-focused while others emphasized basic education; they varied in how broadly the program participation mandate was applied to the welfare caseload and how strictly it was enforced, in the amount of child care support provided for program participation or employment, and in methods of case management; and the programs served different welfare populations and operated in a variety of labor markets. Although the NEWWS evaluation was designed to address the effects on children of requiring parents to participate in welfare-to-work programs, there are many other policies — for example, child care and health insurance policies — that can affect children, and those policies can be examined only indirectly in this evaluation.

    To determine program effects on children, the NEWWS Evaluation uses a very strong research design: a random assignment experiment. In each evaluation site, adults who were required to participate in the program were assigned, by chance, either to a program group that had access to employment and training services and whose members were required to participate in the program or risk a reduction in their monthly welfare grant or to a control group that received no services through the program but could seek out such services from the community(2). (Control group members were eligible for child care assistance, similar to that offered to program group members, if they were participating in nonprogram activities in which they had enrolled on their own.) Notably, in four of the sites, there were two program groups (plus a control group). In three of the sites, one program group was employment-focused while the other program group was education-focused; in the fourth site, the two program groups varied in their case management staffing structure. This random assignment design assures that, within each site, there were no systematic differences between the background characteristics of families in the program and control groups when they entered the study. Thus, any subsequent differences in outcomes between the groups — for adults, children, or families as a whole — can be attributed with confidence to the effects of the programs. These differences between outcomes are called impacts, and all those reported are statistically significant and hold for the whole sample unless otherwise noted. (author abstract)

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