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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: Holcomb, Pamela A.; Pavetti, LaDonna; Ratcliffe, Caroline; Riedinger, Susan
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1998

    In order to encourage and stimulate the cross-fertilization of ideas across states, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked the Urban Institute to document key practices and strategies states have used thus far to make their welfare systems more employment focused, particularly with respect to strategies emphasizing quick entry into the labor market. Six local sites in five states were selected for intensive examination:

    Indiana: Indianapolis (pop. 817,604) and Scottsburg (pop. 22,528)

    Massachusetts: Worcester (pop. 718,858)

    Oregon: Portland (pop. 614,104)

    Virginia: Culpeper (pop. 30,528)

    Wisconsin: Racine (pop. 182,982)

    These states were chosen for in-depth analysis because they exemplify a mix of different strategies to achieve the common goal of increasing employment among welfare recipients. The states vary in terms of the average cash payment they provide recipients—Indiana and Virginia are fairly low grant states while Massachusetts, Oregon and Wisconsin provide relatively high grants.

    In recent years, all of...

    In order to encourage and stimulate the cross-fertilization of ideas across states, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked the Urban Institute to document key practices and strategies states have used thus far to make their welfare systems more employment focused, particularly with respect to strategies emphasizing quick entry into the labor market. Six local sites in five states were selected for intensive examination:

    Indiana: Indianapolis (pop. 817,604) and Scottsburg (pop. 22,528)

    Massachusetts: Worcester (pop. 718,858)

    Oregon: Portland (pop. 614,104)

    Virginia: Culpeper (pop. 30,528)

    Wisconsin: Racine (pop. 182,982)

    These states were chosen for in-depth analysis because they exemplify a mix of different strategies to achieve the common goal of increasing employment among welfare recipients. The states vary in terms of the average cash payment they provide recipients—Indiana and Virginia are fairly low grant states while Massachusetts, Oregon and Wisconsin provide relatively high grants.

    In recent years, all of the study states have experienced significant declines in their cash assistance caseloads that are well above the national average, low unemployment and strong economies.

    Work-oriented reforms in place at the time of this study were implemented at different points between 1993 and 1996. Since the passage of PRWORA, Indiana and Wisconsin both implemented new work-oriented reforms while Virginia, Massachusetts, and Oregon have made few changes.

    Thus, while this study captures state experiences at one point in time, it also reflects states at different stages in their own evolution toward a more employment focused welfare system. It is also important to note that this study took place too soon after TANF went into effect to fully capture the implications and impact of the new federal welfare reform law (e.g., progressively steeper participation rate requirements, lifetime limit on benefit receipt). (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Farrell, Mary; Opcin, Selen; Fishman, Michael
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    Since 1993, welfare recipients have been leaving the welfare rolls for work in record numbers. From January 1993 to January 1998, welfare caseloads declined by 33 percent nationally, and several studies have estimated that over half of the adults who have left welfare have entered the labor market.(1) The inflow of welfare recipients into the labor market can be attributed to two basic factors: welfare reform and the strong economy. Welfare reform is widely perceived to have begun with the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in mid-1996, which increased the number of welfare recipients who were required to seek work. But even prior to this legislation, many states were reshaping their Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) programs under waivers, which likely increased the number of welfare recipients entering the labor force in at least some of these states. In...

    Since 1993, welfare recipients have been leaving the welfare rolls for work in record numbers. From January 1993 to January 1998, welfare caseloads declined by 33 percent nationally, and several studies have estimated that over half of the adults who have left welfare have entered the labor market.(1) The inflow of welfare recipients into the labor market can be attributed to two basic factors: welfare reform and the strong economy. Welfare reform is widely perceived to have begun with the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in mid-1996, which increased the number of welfare recipients who were required to seek work. But even prior to this legislation, many states were reshaping their Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) programs under waivers, which likely increased the number of welfare recipients entering the labor force in at least some of these states. In addition, the strong economy from 1993 to 1998 increased the availability of low-skill jobs and undoubtedly lured many welfare recipients into the low-skill labor market.

    Several other factors may have contributed to changes in labor market participation of welfare recipients and are worth mentioning. First, the federal government expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for working low-income families in the early- and mid-1990s, which most likely encouraged some welfare recipients to enter the labor force. Second, the minimum wage increased in 1997, which could have offset downward wage pressure from the entry of welfare recipients into the labor force. Third, some regions of the country experienced significant changes in population, which reduced or increased the number of low-skill workers in these areas. Finally, the recession of the early 1990s created a pool of unemployed low-skill workers who were available to take new jobs when the economy began to recover.

    Policy-makers have been concerned about whether enough jobs will be available to employ the additional welfare recipients entering the labor market as a result of welfare reform. If a surplus of jobs is not available in particular areas, welfare recipients’ entry into the labor force might reduce low-skill wages and displace some workers. Policy-makers are especially concerned about the impact of welfare reform on rural and small metropolitan labor markets, because these markets might be less able to absorb the inflow of welfare recipients than urban labor markets.

    The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) contracted with The Lewin Group to examine how well rural and small metropolitan labor markets can absorb welfare recipients, and to the extent feasible, estimate the impact of welfare reform on rural and small-metropolitan regions since 1993. This study uses an economic model to estimate the impact of welfare reform and improvements in the economy on the low-skill labor market, where most welfare recipients seek work. A major challenge facing researchers in this area is to distinguish between entry due to reforms (“welfare push”) and entry due to the strong economy (“demand pull”). This decomposition is necessary if we are to anticipate future conditions in the low-skill labor market, when the economy might not be so strong. We attempted such a decomposition in this report. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Schreiner, Mark; Clancy, Margaret; Sherraden, Michael
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    The American Dream Demonstration (ADD) is the first systematic study of Individual Development Account (IDA) programs. IDAs are special accounts wherein savings are matched for the poor.

    While saving is not easy for anyone, it is more difficult for the poor because they have few resources and because they lack access to some public policy mechanisms, such as tax-benefited retirement accounts, that subsidize saving. IDAs are designed to increase savings incentives for the poor. Savings in IDAs are matched if used for home ownership, post-secondary education, microenterprise, or other approved asset uses. Participants also receive financial education and support from IDA staff.

    Do IDAs work? ADD suggests that the poor can save and accumulate assets in IDAs:

    Average monthly net deposits per participant were $19.07.

    The average participant saved about $1 for every $2 that could have been matched.

    The average participant made a deposit in about 6 of every 12 months.

    With an average match rate of about 2:1, participants accumulated...

    The American Dream Demonstration (ADD) is the first systematic study of Individual Development Account (IDA) programs. IDAs are special accounts wherein savings are matched for the poor.

    While saving is not easy for anyone, it is more difficult for the poor because they have few resources and because they lack access to some public policy mechanisms, such as tax-benefited retirement accounts, that subsidize saving. IDAs are designed to increase savings incentives for the poor. Savings in IDAs are matched if used for home ownership, post-secondary education, microenterprise, or other approved asset uses. Participants also receive financial education and support from IDA staff.

    Do IDAs work? ADD suggests that the poor can save and accumulate assets in IDAs:

    Average monthly net deposits per participant were $19.07.

    The average participant saved about $1 for every $2 that could have been matched.

    The average participant made a deposit in about 6 of every 12 months.

    With an average match rate of about 2:1, participants accumulated approximately $700 per year in IDAs. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Kauffman, Jo Ann
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRETORIA) gives American Indian tribes the option to run their own Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program or leave these services under state administration. Eight case studies were conducted in Oregon, Wisconsin, and Arizona with the Klamath Tribes, Siletz Tribe, Warm Springs Confederated Tribes, Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of the Mohican Indians, Forest County Potawatomi Tribe, Oneida Nation, White Mountain Apache, and Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Document reviews and interviews with tribal and state officials and TANF participants provided data on coordination with the state, training and technical assistance, program design, impact of TANF on the tribe, and tribal views of TANF strengths and weaknesses. Six tribes designed and administered their own TANF program, one tribe left TANF entirely up to the state, and one tribe is serving as a contractor for the state's welfare reform program. Most tribal plans mirrored state plans but were flexible as to time limits and work hours and...

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRETORIA) gives American Indian tribes the option to run their own Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program or leave these services under state administration. Eight case studies were conducted in Oregon, Wisconsin, and Arizona with the Klamath Tribes, Siletz Tribe, Warm Springs Confederated Tribes, Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of the Mohican Indians, Forest County Potawatomi Tribe, Oneida Nation, White Mountain Apache, and Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Document reviews and interviews with tribal and state officials and TANF participants provided data on coordination with the state, training and technical assistance, program design, impact of TANF on the tribe, and tribal views of TANF strengths and weaknesses. Six tribes designed and administered their own TANF program, one tribe left TANF entirely up to the state, and one tribe is serving as a contractor for the state's welfare reform program. Most tribal plans mirrored state plans but were flexible as to time limits and work hours and expanded the definition of work activities to include education. Tribal and state relationships were key to successful efforts; assuring access to medical assistance and food stamps was not always a priority; developing new job opportunities was challenging; and unmet needs persisted for alcohol, drug, and mental health treatment. Lessons learned include TANF affected tribes regardless of whether they administered programs; restructuring tribal programs benefitted clients; welfare reform is about work and community support; there was no one model for a TANF effort; medical assistance and food stamps need to be coordinated with TANF; and coordination between tribes and states is critical. Three appendices present methodology, interviewees, and acronyms. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Sanchez, Thomas W. ; Shen, Qing; Peng, Zhong-Ren
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2004

    While policy-makers assert that increased public transit mobility can positively affect employment status for low-income persons, there is little empirical evidence to support this theory. It is generally assumed that public transit can effectively link unemployed, car-less, persons with appropriate job locations—hence the call for more public transit services to assist moving welfare recipients to gainful employment. Thus far, the available evidence is anecdotal, while general patterns of transit access in relationship to labour participation remain relatively unexplored. This analysis examines whether increased transit access is associated with the case status (employment status) of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients in the Atlanta, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Milwaukee, Wisconsin ; and Portland, Oregon metropolitan areas. Individual TANF recipient location data, transit route/stop data and employment location data were used in limited dependent variable regression analyses to predict the employment status of TANF...

    While policy-makers assert that increased public transit mobility can positively affect employment status for low-income persons, there is little empirical evidence to support this theory. It is generally assumed that public transit can effectively link unemployed, car-less, persons with appropriate job locations—hence the call for more public transit services to assist moving welfare recipients to gainful employment. Thus far, the available evidence is anecdotal, while general patterns of transit access in relationship to labour participation remain relatively unexplored. This analysis examines whether increased transit access is associated with the case status (employment status) of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients in the Atlanta, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Milwaukee, Wisconsin ; and Portland, Oregon metropolitan areas. Individual TANF recipient location data, transit route/stop data and employment location data were used in limited dependent variable regression analyses to predict the employment status of TANF recipients. The results of this analysis indicate that access to fixed-route transit and employment concentrations had virtually no association with the employment outcomes of TANF recipients in the six selected metropolitan areas. (author abstract)

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