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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: Ridzi, Frank; London, Andrew
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2006

    The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) encouraged states to reduce welfare caseloads. Caseload reduction can be accomplished by promoting exit for work, marriage, or other private means of support and by diverting new applicants. Most research on caseload decline has focused on welfare-to-work outcomes; less is known about processes of diversion. This study employs administrative records and ethnographic data to examine diversion in West County, New York, from 1999 to 2003. Findings demonstrate a high level of diversion and suggest that application is an ongoing and at times remedial process rather than an event. Diversion occurs at all points of the expanded TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) intake process and is associated with one-time lump sum payments as well as the hassle factor engendered by new eligibility requirements. The encumbered lives of applicants and TANF staff discretion are also implicated as factors contributing to diversion. We conclude with an analysis of the implications of TANF diversion for access to...

    The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) encouraged states to reduce welfare caseloads. Caseload reduction can be accomplished by promoting exit for work, marriage, or other private means of support and by diverting new applicants. Most research on caseload decline has focused on welfare-to-work outcomes; less is known about processes of diversion. This study employs administrative records and ethnographic data to examine diversion in West County, New York, from 1999 to 2003. Findings demonstrate a high level of diversion and suggest that application is an ongoing and at times remedial process rather than an event. Diversion occurs at all points of the expanded TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) intake process and is associated with one-time lump sum payments as well as the hassle factor engendered by new eligibility requirements. The encumbered lives of applicants and TANF staff discretion are also implicated as factors contributing to diversion. We conclude with an analysis of the implications of TANF diversion for access to benefits. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Schexnayder, Deanna; Schroeder, Daniel; Lein, Laura; Dominguez, David
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    In the post-welfare-reform era, many states have begun conducting research to determine how the new policies affect the families they serve. In particular, states need to understand if former welfare recipients are employed or receiving other types of economic supports, how many have returned to welfare, and reasons for families’ success or failure. This report addresses the following questions: - What are the characteristics of families who left or were diverted from TANF? - To what extent are these families participating in other government programs, especially Medicaid and food stamps? - To what extent are these families employed and/or receiving other economic supports, such as child support and child care subsidies? - Over time, how do these families manage and what hardships do they face? - How do potential applicants view the diversion/application process? - Are there particular points after leaving TANF at which people are the most vulnerable to returning? - Which factors are associated with leaving TANF, being employed, or returning to TANF? This report examines these...

    In the post-welfare-reform era, many states have begun conducting research to determine how the new policies affect the families they serve. In particular, states need to understand if former welfare recipients are employed or receiving other types of economic supports, how many have returned to welfare, and reasons for families’ success or failure. This report addresses the following questions: - What are the characteristics of families who left or were diverted from TANF? - To what extent are these families participating in other government programs, especially Medicaid and food stamps? - To what extent are these families employed and/or receiving other economic supports, such as child support and child care subsidies? - Over time, how do these families manage and what hardships do they face? - How do potential applicants view the diversion/application process? - Are there particular points after leaving TANF at which people are the most vulnerable to returning? - Which factors are associated with leaving TANF, being employed, or returning to TANF? This report examines these research questions for two populations of low-income families: those diverted from TANF prior to enrollment and those who have left TANF. Among ‘diverted’ families, three types are being studied: families redirected prior to TANF application, those denied TANF for non-financial reasons, and approved TANF applicants opting to receive a one-time payment in lieu of TANF benefits.(author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Maloy, Kathleen A.; Pavetti, LaDonna A.; Darnell, Julie; Shin, Peter
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1999

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) ended the individual entitlement to welfare benefits and gave states new flexibility to emphasize work instead welfare. PRWORA also severed the traditional eligibility link between Medicaid and welfare. This research examined the emergence of diversion programs as a particular aspect of state welfare reform efforts and the potential for diversion programs to reduce access to Medicaid. In this second of two reports, we present the results of case studies in five states.

    Major findings from this research are:

    • Formal strategies to divert families from welfare are an increasingly common aspect of states' efforts to shift to a work-oriented assistance system. These efforts to emphasize work instead of welfare on the “front end” can also result in informal diversion.
    • Design and implementation of diversion programs reflect state and/or local goals and philosophies; these five states represent a range of diversion strategies that illustrate the importance of understanding key...

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) ended the individual entitlement to welfare benefits and gave states new flexibility to emphasize work instead welfare. PRWORA also severed the traditional eligibility link between Medicaid and welfare. This research examined the emergence of diversion programs as a particular aspect of state welfare reform efforts and the potential for diversion programs to reduce access to Medicaid. In this second of two reports, we present the results of case studies in five states.

    Major findings from this research are:

    • Formal strategies to divert families from welfare are an increasingly common aspect of states' efforts to shift to a work-oriented assistance system. These efforts to emphasize work instead of welfare on the “front end” can also result in informal diversion.
    • Design and implementation of diversion programs reflect state and/or local goals and philosophies; these five states represent a range of diversion strategies that illustrate the importance of understanding key design and implementation choices in each state and, in some cases, each local office within a state.
    • Of the three types of formal diversion, mandatory applicant job search represents the fastest growing program with the greatest potential to divert large numbers of families.
    • Diversion, both formal and informal, has substantial potential to reduce initial access to Medicaid, particularly as families increasingly bypass welfare or go to work quickly thereby becoming ineligible for Medicaid under most states’ current eligibility criteria.
    • State officials can ameliorate this effect on Medicaid by improving implementation efforts and taking advantage of policy options under Section 1931 to focus attention on Medicaid as a stand-alone health insurance program for low-income families.
    • The compelling Medicaid and welfare reform policy challenge posed by diversion is how to use Medicaid effectively to support the welfare reform goal to promote work. Because PRWORA fundamentally changed the nature of the welfare system, states can and should consider whether it is a desirable consequence of their Medicaid and welfare policies that access to Medicaid for diverted families is limited or unavailable.
    • Little information is available on the number and circumstances of families who have been diverted from the welfare rolls. Without such information, reports on the success or failure of state welfare reform efforts will be incomplete.

    (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hetling, Andrea; Tracy, Kirk; Born, Catherine E.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2006

    Diversion strategies emerged as part of the 1996 federal welfare reform legislation and aim to assist needy families without having them enter the traditional monthly cash assistance rolls. One, if not the, major diversion strategy employed in most states is the use of lump-sum cash grants, called Welfare Avoidance Grants (WAG) in Maryland, to assist families with an immediate financial crisis in hopes that they will then be able to achieve or maintain self-sufficiency. This study examines a critical assumption about the nature of diversion programs. That is, are diversion programs, specifically lump-sum cash grants, a cost effective alternative to traditional monthly cash grant programs? Are diverted clients actually “diverted” from welfare, or are they just using equivalent funds in a different way, or, similarly, is their entrance into monthly welfare programs just delayed for a short time?

    Using Maryland State administrative data, this study compares the total receipt of monetary aid over a three-year period by two welfare applicant cohorts, those whose application...

    Diversion strategies emerged as part of the 1996 federal welfare reform legislation and aim to assist needy families without having them enter the traditional monthly cash assistance rolls. One, if not the, major diversion strategy employed in most states is the use of lump-sum cash grants, called Welfare Avoidance Grants (WAG) in Maryland, to assist families with an immediate financial crisis in hopes that they will then be able to achieve or maintain self-sufficiency. This study examines a critical assumption about the nature of diversion programs. That is, are diversion programs, specifically lump-sum cash grants, a cost effective alternative to traditional monthly cash grant programs? Are diverted clients actually “diverted” from welfare, or are they just using equivalent funds in a different way, or, similarly, is their entrance into monthly welfare programs just delayed for a short time?

    Using Maryland State administrative data, this study compares the total receipt of monetary aid over a three-year period by two welfare applicant cohorts, those whose application resulted in a Welfare Avoidance Grant and those who became new Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) clients. The universe of individuals who received a WAG between October 1, 1999 and December 1, 1999 (n = 315) was matched on two criteria, region of residence and number of adults on the grant, to a sample of new TCA recipients of the same time period. By matching the samples on these variables, we can ensure that any statistically significant outcome differences cannot be attributed to either of these variables. In addition, an Ordinary Least Squares regression model was designed with other demographic and life experience control variables to determine whether or not WAG receipt resulted in a more, less or about the same total amount of cash assistance during the 36-month outcome period. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Rosenberg, Linda; Derr, Michelle; Pavetti, LaDonna; Asheer, Subuhi; Angus, Megan H.; Sattar, Samina; Max, Jeffrey
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2008

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) created a new work-oriented framework for providing assistance to low-income families. Within this framework, states were given a block grant and considerable flexibility to create new support systems for families that encouraged work and discouraged long-term reliance on government-provided cash assistance. Responding to concerns that families that turn to the welfare system for support may find it hard to leave, states began implementing “diversion” programs to keep families whose needs could be met through other means from ever coming on to the welfare rolls. In response to higher effective work participation rates that followed the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in 2005, states have added new policies and programs that divert TANF-eligible families from the TANF system.

    This report describes states’ policies on and experiences with diversion programs. To document the states’ diversion strategies, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR)...

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) created a new work-oriented framework for providing assistance to low-income families. Within this framework, states were given a block grant and considerable flexibility to create new support systems for families that encouraged work and discouraged long-term reliance on government-provided cash assistance. Responding to concerns that families that turn to the welfare system for support may find it hard to leave, states began implementing “diversion” programs to keep families whose needs could be met through other means from ever coming on to the welfare rolls. In response to higher effective work participation rates that followed the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in 2005, states have added new policies and programs that divert TANF-eligible families from the TANF system.

    This report describes states’ policies on and experiences with diversion programs. To document the states’ diversion strategies, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR) conducted the Identifying Promising TANF Diversion Practices Study for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Data for the study were collected through a state survey, a telephone interview with designated representatives in each state, and visits to two states to learn more about their diversion strategies. Data collection began in December 2007 and ended in March 2008. (author abstract)

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