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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: 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)

  • Individual Author: Brock, Thomas; Nelson, Laura C. ; Reiter, Megan
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    A primary objective of the 1996 welfare reform law, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity; Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), is to end poor families’ dependence on public benefits by helping them prepare for employment. Part of MDRC’s Project on Devolution and Urban Change, this report examines how four urban counties—Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Los Angeles, Miami-Dade, and Philadelphia—have approached the challenge of moving large numbers of welfare recipients into work. Focusing on the period from 1997 through early 2001, the report draws on interviews and observations conducted at the county welfare offices, a survey of welfare office staff, and participation and expenditure data supplied by the counties and the States in which they are located. 
    
    Though large welfare bureaucracies have historically been able to ride out pressures to change, after PRWORA’s passage the sites in the Urban Change study made important policy and operational changes directed at moving welfare recipients into the workforce. Designing and implementing these changes took...

    A primary objective of the 1996 welfare reform law, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity; Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), is to end poor families’ dependence on public benefits by helping them prepare for employment. Part of MDRC’s Project on Devolution and Urban Change, this report examines how four urban counties—Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Los Angeles, Miami-Dade, and Philadelphia—have approached the challenge of moving large numbers of welfare recipients into work. Focusing on the period from 1997 through early 2001, the report draws on interviews and observations conducted at the county welfare offices, a survey of welfare office staff, and participation and expenditure data supplied by the counties and the States in which they are located. 
    
    Though large welfare bureaucracies have historically been able to ride out pressures to change, after PRWORA’s passage the sites in the Urban Change study made important policy and operational changes directed at moving welfare recipients into the workforce. Designing and implementing these changes took several years and considerable financial and human resources. Three of the four counties shifted from an emphasis on education and training to a “work-first” approach (Los Angeles had already moved in that direction by the time PRWORA was passed). All four counties also made substantial strides toward increasing the percentage of welfare recipients who were employed or participating in welfare-to-work activities. Finally, despite falling caseloads, spending on welfare-to-work programs increased dramatically in all the counties. The changes did not always proceed smoothly. For instance, state and local policymakers sometimes clashed over program objectives, and case managers—who play a critical role in linking recipients and policies—sometimes struggled to fulfill their increasingly complicated responsibilities. Supplementary funds for serving hard-to-employ recipients were available through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Welfare-To-Work grant program, but only Philadelphia made extensive use of them. All the counties continue to search for effective strategies for working with the hard-to-employ. (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: Fink, Barbara; Widom, Rebecca
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    In order to fully understand how welfare reform influences the well-being of low-income families and communities, we must learn how human service organizations are affected by new welfare policies. This report examines agency staff members’ knowledge about welfare reform, their overall views of welfare reform, their experience of its impact on their agencies, and their expectations of how it will affect them. The findings offer preliminary insights into how new government policies shape other components of the network of service provision that is essential to the well-being of low-income families. (Author abstract) 

    In order to fully understand how welfare reform influences the well-being of low-income families and communities, we must learn how human service organizations are affected by new welfare policies. This report examines agency staff members’ knowledge about welfare reform, their overall views of welfare reform, their experience of its impact on their agencies, and their expectations of how it will affect them. The findings offer preliminary insights into how new government policies shape other components of the network of service provision that is essential to the well-being of low-income families. (Author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Burt, Martha R.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    This report addresses two questions: 1) What happens to homeless families who "graduate" from HUD-funded transitional housing (TH)? and 2) What factors affect housing, employment, and children's well-being after TH? Project sites included Cleveland/Cuyahoga County, Detroit, Houston/Harris County, San Diego City and County, and Seattle/King County. 195 families were interviewed as they left TH, with 179 (92 percent) completing 12 month follow-up interviews. Certain aspects of TH programs and the way that mothers used them affected mothers' education and employment immediately after TH and employment 12 months later. Having a housing voucher at TH exit was the strongest predictor of stable housing during the year following TH, but had no effect on employment outcomes. (author abstract)

    This report addresses two questions: 1) What happens to homeless families who "graduate" from HUD-funded transitional housing (TH)? and 2) What factors affect housing, employment, and children's well-being after TH? Project sites included Cleveland/Cuyahoga County, Detroit, Houston/Harris County, San Diego City and County, and Seattle/King County. 195 families were interviewed as they left TH, with 179 (92 percent) completing 12 month follow-up interviews. Certain aspects of TH programs and the way that mothers used them affected mothers' education and employment immediately after TH and employment 12 months later. Having a housing voucher at TH exit was the strongest predictor of stable housing during the year following TH, but had no effect on employment outcomes. (author abstract)

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