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  • Individual Author: Kirby, Gretchen; Ross, Christine; Puffer, Loren
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 changed cash welfare from a system of income maintenance as an entitlement to low-income families to one in which assistance to families is both limited and temporary, and in which work and economic self-sufficiency are emphasized. The emerging emphasis on work has led many states to significantly narrow the exemptions from welfare-related work requirements. Under prior Federal law, states could opt to adjust the young-child work exemption from its Federally-mandated level, which exempted parents with a child under three years old, to exempt only parents with a child under one year old. In 1998, 22 states used the new flexibility granted under PRWORA to require parents to work if their youngest child was less than one year old. This report examines the state and local policies and practices that encourage and support the activities of welfare-reliant parents of infants who are required to engage in work and school activities.

    Juggling work and family responsibilities is a formidable...

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 changed cash welfare from a system of income maintenance as an entitlement to low-income families to one in which assistance to families is both limited and temporary, and in which work and economic self-sufficiency are emphasized. The emerging emphasis on work has led many states to significantly narrow the exemptions from welfare-related work requirements. Under prior Federal law, states could opt to adjust the young-child work exemption from its Federally-mandated level, which exempted parents with a child under three years old, to exempt only parents with a child under one year old. In 1998, 22 states used the new flexibility granted under PRWORA to require parents to work if their youngest child was less than one year old. This report examines the state and local policies and practices that encourage and support the activities of welfare-reliant parents of infants who are required to engage in work and school activities.

    Juggling work and family responsibilities is a formidable challenge for two-parent families with young children, but it is even harder for single parents, who make up the majority of the welfare caseload. Even more challenging for single parents who work is the task of caring for an infant because infant care is generally less available, more expensive, and harder to assess in terms of quality. As states seek ways to support families with infants in their transition from welfare to work, many questions emerge for researchers and policymakers alike. How successful is the welfare-to-work transition for parents of infants? What special challenges do these parents face in balancing their parenting activities with required work or school activities? What supportive services are critical to continued participation in work and school activities, and ultimately, to a successful transition from welfare to work? Is continuous, reliable, affordable, and good-quality infant care available to these parents? Have states taken the opportunity to link these families with child care that can promote the health and development of infants?

    In an effort to answer these questions and, ultimately, to address the issue of providing infant care for single, working, low-income parents, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services contracted with Mathematica Policy Research (MPR) to conduct the Study of Infant Care Under Welfare Reform. The study was designed to provide information about the strategies states and communities are using to help parents of infants make the transition to school or work while promoting the health and development of their infants, and about the policy and program challenges states and communities are facing in this effort. The information is intended both to inform policymakers about the experience of several communities and to build a foundation for future research on the effectiveness of particular programs, policies, and strategies in supporting the transition to work or school while promoting infant health and development.

    The study has three phases:

    A general information-gathering phase, focusing on the work-, school-, and child care-related policies and programs in 22 states that required parents of infants to work in 1998, when the study was launched.

    An in-depth study phase, focusing on welfare and child care program policy and practice in eight communities, and on the experiences of welfare-reliant parents of infants in these sites.

    A research design phase, focusing on the evaluation of programs, policies, and strategies designed to support parents’ transitions to work and their infants’ health and development.

    This report presents the findings from the first two phases of the study, with an emphasis on the second phase. We end with a summary of research directions, which will be expanded upon in a forthcoming report. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Brocksen, Sally M.
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2006

    This project employed a descriptive case study methodology guided by rational choice theory to examine the financial feasibility of marriage for low income women. By modeling the income and expenses of eight different low income family types in six states (Arizona, California, New York, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Wisconsin) this study illustrates the financial situation of various low income families. The family types under investigation include: a single parent family, a family receiving TANF, cohabiting couple with two wage earners, cohabiting couple with one wage earner, a married family with two wage earners, a married couple with one wage earner, a unmarried couple with an infant (unmarried fragile family), and a married couple with an infant (married fragile family). The income of each family type was calculated at two different wage levels (minimum and low wage for each state under investigation). Income included the welfare benefits and subsidies each of the family's is likely to receive (including child care subsidies and tax credits). The expenses of each family were...

    This project employed a descriptive case study methodology guided by rational choice theory to examine the financial feasibility of marriage for low income women. By modeling the income and expenses of eight different low income family types in six states (Arizona, California, New York, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Wisconsin) this study illustrates the financial situation of various low income families. The family types under investigation include: a single parent family, a family receiving TANF, cohabiting couple with two wage earners, cohabiting couple with one wage earner, a married family with two wage earners, a married couple with one wage earner, a unmarried couple with an infant (unmarried fragile family), and a married couple with an infant (married fragile family). The income of each family type was calculated at two different wage levels (minimum and low wage for each state under investigation). Income included the welfare benefits and subsidies each of the family's is likely to receive (including child care subsidies and tax credits). The expenses of each family were calculated based on the size of the family and the cost of expenses such as housing and food expenditures. This study found that of the models presented here married families are not always financially better off when compared to single parent and cohabiting families. These findings demonstrate that if policy makers wish to support marriage among low income families they should first make marriage financially feasible for unmarried couples (particularly cohabiting couples) and create greater economic stability for couples that are already married. By providing consistent work supports (e.g. child care and health insurance), expanding programs that help low income families (such as the Earned Income Tax Credit), creating poverty measures that accurately reflect the real situation of low income families, and increasing the wages of low income workers, policy makers will create an environment where it is financially feasible for low income couples to marry and remain married. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Snyder, Kathleen ; Bernstein, Sara ; Koralek, Robin
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2006

    Child care subsidies are an important support service for families moving from welfare to work. The connections between child care and work, and the work oriented focus within the welfare system since welfare reform, have increased the need for links between the welfare-to-work and child care subsidy systems to ensure families receiving TANF and moving off TANF are connected to child care subsidies. This paper summarizes findings from the third phase of the study. It is based on focus groups conducted in four locations in 2003 with current TANF participants and parents who had left TANF within the past year and were receiving child care subsidies. The report examines how these parents accessed and retained child care subsidies as they moved through and off welfare. However, it is important to note that this study did not examine the experiences of families that were not using subsidies. As a consequence, this study provides important information to help us better understand how these systems and polices work for families in the system, but it does not represent the perspectives...

    Child care subsidies are an important support service for families moving from welfare to work. The connections between child care and work, and the work oriented focus within the welfare system since welfare reform, have increased the need for links between the welfare-to-work and child care subsidy systems to ensure families receiving TANF and moving off TANF are connected to child care subsidies. This paper summarizes findings from the third phase of the study. It is based on focus groups conducted in four locations in 2003 with current TANF participants and parents who had left TANF within the past year and were receiving child care subsidies. The report examines how these parents accessed and retained child care subsidies as they moved through and off welfare. However, it is important to note that this study did not examine the experiences of families that were not using subsidies. As a consequence, this study provides important information to help us better understand how these systems and polices work for families in the system, but it does not represent the perspectives of families that were unsuccessful in navigating these systems. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Gordon, Rachel A.; Kaestner, Robert; Korenman, Sanders
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2008

    Parents face a trade-off in the effect of childcare problems on employment. Whereas large settings may increase problems because of child illness, small group care may relate to provider unavailability. Analyzing the NICHD Study of Early Child Care, we find that child-care centers and large family day care lead to mothers' greater work absences because of a sick child, but not to maternal job exits. Greater work absences because of unavailability of small home-based providers are associated with mothers' job exits, especially when mothers have low earnings and use nonrelative caregivers. Our findings accentuate the need for improved hygiene practices in child care, expanded personal leave coverage for parents, and greater backup care for sick and well children. (author abstract)

    Parents face a trade-off in the effect of childcare problems on employment. Whereas large settings may increase problems because of child illness, small group care may relate to provider unavailability. Analyzing the NICHD Study of Early Child Care, we find that child-care centers and large family day care lead to mothers' greater work absences because of a sick child, but not to maternal job exits. Greater work absences because of unavailability of small home-based providers are associated with mothers' job exits, especially when mothers have low earnings and use nonrelative caregivers. Our findings accentuate the need for improved hygiene practices in child care, expanded personal leave coverage for parents, and greater backup care for sick and well children. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Gezinski, Lindsay Blair
    Reference Type: Thesis
    Year: 2011

    With the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in 1996, Congress ended “welfare as we know it” and formally adopted a workfare approach. However, families continue to be trapped in the “low-wage ghetto”. Therefore, research is needed that investigates effective routes out of poverty. Studies have found that welfare recipients with higher educational attainment work more and earn significantly higher income than those with lower educational attainment. However, very little research exists around the relationship between social capital and labor force participation.

    Four research questions guided this study: (1) How do demographic variables affect social capital and human capital among single women who use welfare? (2) How do social capital and human capital affect employment outcome? (3) Do social capital and human capital act as mediators between demographic variables and employment outcome? (4) How do macro-level variables (i.e., city unemployment rate and state TANF policy) affect employment outcome?

    This study...

    With the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in 1996, Congress ended “welfare as we know it” and formally adopted a workfare approach. However, families continue to be trapped in the “low-wage ghetto”. Therefore, research is needed that investigates effective routes out of poverty. Studies have found that welfare recipients with higher educational attainment work more and earn significantly higher income than those with lower educational attainment. However, very little research exists around the relationship between social capital and labor force participation.

    Four research questions guided this study: (1) How do demographic variables affect social capital and human capital among single women who use welfare? (2) How do social capital and human capital affect employment outcome? (3) Do social capital and human capital act as mediators between demographic variables and employment outcome? (4) How do macro-level variables (i.e., city unemployment rate and state TANF policy) affect employment outcome?

    This study analyzed Wave 2 (2005-2007) data from the Making Connections Cross-Site Survey database. 1,428 women with no spouse/partner present in the household who indicated use of a TANF/welfare office in the last 12 months were selected for inclusion in the study sample. An exploratory factor analysis was conducted to extract factors that underlie the social capital construct and to identify the indicators that were associated with each of those factors. Five social capital factors emerged: support giving social capital, bonding social capital, bridging social capital, value sharing social capital, and support receiving social capital. Structural equation modeling was used to answer the major research questions in this study. (author abstract)

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