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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: Polit, Denise F.; London, Andrew S.; Martinez, John M.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    To what extent might the health of welfare recipients and their children play a role in the new welfare environment? In 1996, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), creating a five-year lifetime limit on the receipt of federal cash welfare benefits for most families. PRWORA dropped the language from prior legislation that excused welfare recipients from mandatory participation in welfare-to-work activities for health reasons. The new policy considers all recipients subject to participation requirements and time limits, except for an undefined 20 percent of each state's caseload who may be excused for "good cause." There is little information about whether the 20 percent figure is sufficient to encompass all recipients with health problems - or whether women leaving welfare will be able to secure the health care they need for themselves and their children.

    This report describes the health and health care needs of welfare recipients (and former recipients) living in large urban areas, where a substantial percentage of...

    To what extent might the health of welfare recipients and their children play a role in the new welfare environment? In 1996, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), creating a five-year lifetime limit on the receipt of federal cash welfare benefits for most families. PRWORA dropped the language from prior legislation that excused welfare recipients from mandatory participation in welfare-to-work activities for health reasons. The new policy considers all recipients subject to participation requirements and time limits, except for an undefined 20 percent of each state's caseload who may be excused for "good cause." There is little information about whether the 20 percent figure is sufficient to encompass all recipients with health problems - or whether women leaving welfare will be able to secure the health care they need for themselves and their children.

    This report describes the health and health care needs of welfare recipients (and former recipients) living in large urban areas, where a substantial percentage of the national welfare caseload lives. The report is based on 1998-1999 survey and ethnographic data from the Project on Devolution and Urban Change, a multi-component study designed to examine the implementation and effects of PRWORA in four urban counties: Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Los Angeles, Miami-Dade, and Philadelphia. Survey respondents were selected randomly from among the May 1995 public assistance recipients residing in high-poverty neighborhoods in each county. The report compares the health of four groups of women based on their statuses at the time of the survey: women who had left welfare and were working, women who combined welfare and work, women who received welfare and did not work, and women who neither worked nor received welfare. Ethnographic interview data, collected from welfare recipients living in selected neighborhoods in each site, complement and augment the survey findings. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Quint, Janet; Edin, Kathryn; Buck, Maria L.; Fink, Barbara; Padilla, Yolanda C.; Simmons-Hewitt, Olis; Valmont, Mary Eustace; Bowie, Stan L.; Johnson, Earl S.; Korbin, Jill E.; Stepick, Carol Dutton; Stepick, Alex; Valenzuela, Abel
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1999

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 revolutionized welfare policy. Ending Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) — the 60-year-old federal cash welfare program for poor families — the act granted unprecedented authority and responsibility for public assistance policies and programs to the states, established a new form of aid known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which provides funds to the states via block grants, and placed a five-year lifetime limit on federally assisted cash benefits for most families. States were permitted to exempt from the federal time limit no more than 20 percent of their average monthly caseloads and also faced increasingly stringent requirements to place more welfare recipients into jobs or work preparation activities. In the aftermath of PRWORA, states have further “devolved” much of the responsibility for welfare to local welfare agencies and other entities.

    Congress enacted PRWORA and President Clinton signed it out of the profound conviction that the existing welfare...

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 revolutionized welfare policy. Ending Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) — the 60-year-old federal cash welfare program for poor families — the act granted unprecedented authority and responsibility for public assistance policies and programs to the states, established a new form of aid known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which provides funds to the states via block grants, and placed a five-year lifetime limit on federally assisted cash benefits for most families. States were permitted to exempt from the federal time limit no more than 20 percent of their average monthly caseloads and also faced increasingly stringent requirements to place more welfare recipients into jobs or work preparation activities. In the aftermath of PRWORA, states have further “devolved” much of the responsibility for welfare to local welfare agencies and other entities.

    Congress enacted PRWORA and President Clinton signed it out of the profound conviction that the existing welfare system was a failure, but without much prior research to suggest what the likely effects of the new law’s provisions might be. PRWORA’s proponents expected the changes to spur policy innovation, lead more families to become self-supporting, and encourage marriage while discouraging out-of-wedlock births. The law’s critics predicted dire effects on poor families and the neighborhoods in which they live — more poverty, hardship, homelessness, domestic violence, and crime.

    The fundamental premise underlying the Project on Devolution and Urban Change (Urban Change for short) is that the effects of PRWORA — whether positive, negative, or mixed — will be felt with special intensity by residents of the nation’s big cities, where long-term welfare recipients and other poor people are increasingly concentrated and employment opportunities are often limited. The Urban Change project is a five-year, multicomponent study of PRWORA’s implementation and of its effects on poor families with children, the communities in which they live, and the institutions that assist them. The study is taking place in four of the nation’s largest urban counties — Cuyahoga, Ohio (which includes Cleveland); Los Angeles, California; Miami-Dade, Florida; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. These counties (also referred to as the study’s sites) were selected to represent a mix of older Northern industrial cities and younger Sunbelt cities, with different local economies, welfare grant levels, and ethnic mixes. All four counties, however, account for a disproportionate share of the TANF recipients in their respective states.

    The study is being undertaken by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that develops and evaluates interventions designed to improve the self-sufficiency and well-being of economically disadvantaged populations, in cooperation with researchers from other institutions at or near the study sites. The project is supported by a consortium of 11 foundations, which are listed at the front of the report.

    This report, the first from the project, centers on case studies of the four sites. These case studies contain information from two of the project’s components: the implementation study, which explores welfare agency policies and practices, and the ethnographic study, which centers on in-depth interviews with welfare families living in poor neighborhoods at the sites. Although the data for this report were collected approximately 10 to 20 months after the passage of PRWORA and the story has continued to unfold since that time, many of the issues and dilemmas identified in the early round of research are ones with which the sites are still grappling. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Polit, Denise F.; Nelson, Laura; Richburg-Hayes, Lashawn; Seith, David; Rich, Sarah
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2005

    The 1996 national welfare reform law imposed a five-year time limit on federally funded cash assistance, established stricter work requirements, and provided greater flexibility for states in designing and managing programs. This report — the last in a series from MDRC’s Project on Devolution and Urban Change — describes how welfare reform unfolded in Los Angeles County (particularly between 1998 and 2001) and compares welfare reform experiences and outcomes there with those in the other three Urban Change sites: Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Miami- Dade County, and Philadelphia.

    After presenting a digest of the study’s findings, this summary report offers background on the Urban Change study in Los Angeles, depicts the county’s demographic and economic environment, describes the implementation of welfare reform, explains the effects of reform on welfare receipt and employment and on the lives of welfare recipients, describes what happened in Los Angeles neighborhoods during welfare reform, and concludes with policy implications drawn from conclusions from all four Urban...

    The 1996 national welfare reform law imposed a five-year time limit on federally funded cash assistance, established stricter work requirements, and provided greater flexibility for states in designing and managing programs. This report — the last in a series from MDRC’s Project on Devolution and Urban Change — describes how welfare reform unfolded in Los Angeles County (particularly between 1998 and 2001) and compares welfare reform experiences and outcomes there with those in the other three Urban Change sites: Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Miami- Dade County, and Philadelphia.

    After presenting a digest of the study’s findings, this summary report offers background on the Urban Change study in Los Angeles, depicts the county’s demographic and economic environment, describes the implementation of welfare reform, explains the effects of reform on welfare receipt and employment and on the lives of welfare recipients, describes what happened in Los Angeles neighborhoods during welfare reform, and concludes with policy implications drawn from conclusions from all four Urban Change sites. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Brock, Thomas; Coulton, Claudia; London, Andrew; Polit, Denise; Richburg-Hayes, Lashawn; Scott, Ellen; Verma, Nandita; Kwakye, Isaac; Martin, Vanessa; Polyne, Judy C.; Seith, David
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    This report - one of a series from MDRC's Project on Devolution and Urban Change - examines how welfare reform unfolded in Ohio's largest city and county: Cleveland, in Cuyahoga County. Ohio's TANF program features one of the country's shortest time limits (36 months) and has a strong emphasis on moving welfare recipients into employment. This study uses field research, surveys and interviews of current and former welfare recipients, state and county welfare and employment records, and indicators of social and economic trends to assess TANF's implementation and effects. Because of the strong economy and ample funding for services in the late 1990s, it captures welfare reform in the best of times, while also focusing on the poorest families and neighborhoods...

    The study's findings counter the notion that welfare reform would lead to service retrenchment and a worsening of conditions for families and neighborhoods. To the contrary, there were many improvements in Cleveland - though the favorable economy played a major role, and time limits had just been implemented when the...

    This report - one of a series from MDRC's Project on Devolution and Urban Change - examines how welfare reform unfolded in Ohio's largest city and county: Cleveland, in Cuyahoga County. Ohio's TANF program features one of the country's shortest time limits (36 months) and has a strong emphasis on moving welfare recipients into employment. This study uses field research, surveys and interviews of current and former welfare recipients, state and county welfare and employment records, and indicators of social and economic trends to assess TANF's implementation and effects. Because of the strong economy and ample funding for services in the late 1990s, it captures welfare reform in the best of times, while also focusing on the poorest families and neighborhoods...

    The study's findings counter the notion that welfare reform would lead to service retrenchment and a worsening of conditions for families and neighborhoods. To the contrary, there were many improvements in Cleveland - though the favorable economy played a major role, and time limits had just been implemented when the study ended. Further study is needed to determine the long-term effects of time limits and how welfare reform will fare under less auspicious conditions. (author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Beimers, David; Fischer, Robert L.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2007

    The passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 by the U.S. Congress required welfare recipients to quickly move into the workforce. Employment services agencies perform a key role in this process by providing welfare recipients with work readiness and job search skills. This article reviews the findings of an empirical study of the experiences and employment outcomes of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients referred to contracted employment services agencies. The study involves a random-sample survey of 151 TANF recipients in a large, urban, north-central county. The findings suggest that generic work readiness activities may be of limited utility unless they include job leads to actual employment opportunities. The article concludes with a discussion of critical issues for practitioners. (author abstract)

    The passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 by the U.S. Congress required welfare recipients to quickly move into the workforce. Employment services agencies perform a key role in this process by providing welfare recipients with work readiness and job search skills. This article reviews the findings of an empirical study of the experiences and employment outcomes of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients referred to contracted employment services agencies. The study involves a random-sample survey of 151 TANF recipients in a large, urban, north-central county. The findings suggest that generic work readiness activities may be of limited utility unless they include job leads to actual employment opportunities. The article concludes with a discussion of critical issues for practitioners. (author abstract)

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