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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
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2014

    In this testimony before the State of Vermont House Committee on Human Resources, Heather Hahn discusses proposed changes to Vermont's TANF program, and more generally, the "benefits cliff" and work incentives that participants experience as they strive for self-sufficiency. Hahn explains how the key policy levers - asset tests and the earned income disregards - affect the benefits cliff and work incentives. She also places Vermont's Reach Up rules in the context of other states' TANF rules and discusses other important issues to consider in conjunction with changes in these rules. (author abstract) 

    In this testimony before the State of Vermont House Committee on Human Resources, Heather Hahn discusses proposed changes to Vermont's TANF program, and more generally, the "benefits cliff" and work incentives that participants experience as they strive for self-sufficiency. Hahn explains how the key policy levers - asset tests and the earned income disregards - affect the benefits cliff and work incentives. She also places Vermont's Reach Up rules in the context of other states' TANF rules and discusses other important issues to consider in conjunction with changes in these rules. (author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Finch, Ife; Schott, Liz
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    Cash assistance benefits for the nation’s poorest families with children fell again in purchasing power in 2012 and are now at least 20 percent below their 1996 levels in 37 states, after adjusting for inflation.  Unlike in 2011, when six states reduced the already-low benefits they provide through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, no states cut benefit levels in 2012.  A few states increased their family grants, but most states kept them unchanged, allowing the benefits to continue to be eroded by inflation.  With the country’s economic outlook looking somewhat more favorable in the coming year, it is time for states to halt the erosion of TANF benefits and slowly regain some of the purchasing power lost over the past 16 years.

    For a majority of recipients, the purchasing power of TANF benefits is below 1996 levels, after adjusting for inflation. These declines came on top of even larger declines in benefits over the preceding quarter-century; between 1970 and 1996, cash assistance benefit levels for poor families with children fell by more than...

    Cash assistance benefits for the nation’s poorest families with children fell again in purchasing power in 2012 and are now at least 20 percent below their 1996 levels in 37 states, after adjusting for inflation.  Unlike in 2011, when six states reduced the already-low benefits they provide through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, no states cut benefit levels in 2012.  A few states increased their family grants, but most states kept them unchanged, allowing the benefits to continue to be eroded by inflation.  With the country’s economic outlook looking somewhat more favorable in the coming year, it is time for states to halt the erosion of TANF benefits and slowly regain some of the purchasing power lost over the past 16 years.

    For a majority of recipients, the purchasing power of TANF benefits is below 1996 levels, after adjusting for inflation. These declines came on top of even larger declines in benefits over the preceding quarter-century; between 1970 and 1996, cash assistance benefit levels for poor families with children fell by more than 40 percent in real terms in two-thirds of the states.  As of July 1, 2012, benefits for a family of three with no other cash income for all states were below 50 percent of the federal poverty line, measured as a share of the Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines for 2012. Benefits were below 30 percent of the poverty line in the majority of states.  There is not a single state in the nation in which the TANF benefit level for a family of three with no other cash income is at least equal to the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment.[1]   In fact, in 25 states, TANF benefits amount to less than half of the Fair Market Rent.

    TANF provides a safety net to relatively few poor families:  in 2011, just 27 families received TANF benefits for every 100 poor families, down from 68 families receiving TANF for every 100 in poverty in 1996.  But for the families that participate in the program, it often is their only source of support and without it, they would have no cash income to meet their basic needs.

    This paper is an annual update of state TANF benefit levels as of July 1 each year (the beginning of the fiscal year for most states).  This update covers the changes in TANF benefit levels between July 1, 2011 and July 1, 2012.  The benefit levels cited here reflect the benefits for a family of three with no other income as of July 1, 2012. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Schott, Liz; Finch, Ife
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    TANF cash assistance programs provide critical income support to some of the nation’s most vulnerable families with children. How well these programs do at protecting children from deep poverty and material deprivation depends on both the extent to which very poor families are actually enrolled in the program and the level of benefits and quality of services the program provides. During this recession, state TANF caseloads have increased modestly in the nation as a whole, lagging far behind much larger increases in SNAP (food stamp) caseloads and in the number of unemployed. The national picture masks significant variation among states, with significant caseload increases in some states, flat or near-flat caseloads in some states, and decreased caseloads in other states. (Author abstract)

    TANF cash assistance programs provide critical income support to some of the nation’s most vulnerable families with children. How well these programs do at protecting children from deep poverty and material deprivation depends on both the extent to which very poor families are actually enrolled in the program and the level of benefits and quality of services the program provides. During this recession, state TANF caseloads have increased modestly in the nation as a whole, lagging far behind much larger increases in SNAP (food stamp) caseloads and in the number of unemployed. The national picture masks significant variation among states, with significant caseload increases in some states, flat or near-flat caseloads in some states, and decreased caseloads in other states. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Gorin, Rebecca
    Reference Type: SSRC Products
    Year: 2016

    Posted by Rebecca Gorin, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    Of the 1.8 million low-income parents that participate in education and training activities, most are single parents of children under five who also hold full-time jobs. Many pursuing additional education are on more than one type of public assistance program, often facing competing requirements to maintain benefits--some prioritizing work, others emphasizing training and education.

    The...

    Posted by Rebecca Gorin, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    Of the 1.8 million low-income parents that participate in education and training activities, most are single parents of children under five who also hold full-time jobs. Many pursuing additional education are on more than one type of public assistance program, often facing competing requirements to maintain benefits--some prioritizing work, others emphasizing training and education.

    The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program, established in 1996 by the Personal Responsibility and Work Responsibility Act, marked a dramatic shift away from cash assistance, requiring participants to work in order to keep their benefits. Recently, several companion programs have begun to support education and training as a prerequisite to work and economic stability.  

    For example, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, allocates $300 million annually to states to operate SNAP E&T programs. While states are afforded considerable flexibility in their design, these programs help participants with job searches, provide work experience, basic-skills training, and job retention services. The child support system, originally an enforcement mechanism to recoup welfare payments, is also beginning to offer employment supports, through pilot projects that provide case management, employment services and fatherhood/parenting activities to non-custodial parents with high barriers to employment. These pilots, are a part of the National Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration Project (CSPED) and aim to improve financial and emotional stability for children by increasing the economic capacities of their parents. 

    These policy shifts have occurred as the literature and research base has grown on the effectiveness and outcomes of work-first policies, as well as education and training supports for low-income individuals. This research has found that flexible programs, like SNAP E&T, are well-equipped to respond to economic downturns in comparison to work-first programs. Studies also indicate that training programs that adapt to changing labor market conditions and take into account employer needs can help participants build career pathways. Employment-based child support programs are also proving to be effective at not only increasing child support payments but increasing the presence of non-custodial parents in their children’s lives. 

    Learn More about Work First Policy from the SSRC:

    The SSRC Library contains numerous evaluation reports and stakeholder resources on these policy, research and practice development, including:

    For more resources, check out the SSRC Library and subscribe to SSRC or follow us on Twitter to receive updates about upcoming events, new library materials on self-sufficiency topics of interest to you and more.

  • Individual Author: Fix, Michael E.; Tumlin, Karen C.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1997

    In this brief, the authors argue that the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) embodies a fundamental shift in the locus of immigrant policy from the federal government to states and localities. The new policy fragments what had been uniform national rules set by Congress and the courts regarding noncitizens eligibility for public benefits. Because states are granted far greater power to deny public benefits to noncitizens, welfare reform deepens the differences between how citizens and noncitizens are treated and redefines noncitizens membership in society. (Author abstract)

    In this brief, the authors argue that the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) embodies a fundamental shift in the locus of immigrant policy from the federal government to states and localities. The new policy fragments what had been uniform national rules set by Congress and the courts regarding noncitizens eligibility for public benefits. Because states are granted far greater power to deny public benefits to noncitizens, welfare reform deepens the differences between how citizens and noncitizens are treated and redefines noncitizens membership in society. (Author abstract)

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