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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: Acs, Gregory; Loprest, Pamela; Roberts, Tracy
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), passed in 1996, replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grants to states. Since that time, the federal cash assistance caseloads have dropped by over 50 percent, from 4.4 million in August, 1996 to 2.1 million in March, 2001. There is interest at the federal, state, and local levels in better understanding the circumstances of the unprecedented number of families that have left welfare, including their employment status, participation in public programs, and the overall well-being of both the leavers and their children.

    A host of state and policy researchers have examined the well-being of families leaving welfare in the post-reform era. These studies vary widely in the populations they study, how they define a welfare “leaver,” the outcomes that they examine and how those outcomes are measured, and in their methodological rigor. Consequently, it is difficult to use these studies to draw general conclusions...

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), passed in 1996, replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grants to states. Since that time, the federal cash assistance caseloads have dropped by over 50 percent, from 4.4 million in August, 1996 to 2.1 million in March, 2001. There is interest at the federal, state, and local levels in better understanding the circumstances of the unprecedented number of families that have left welfare, including their employment status, participation in public programs, and the overall well-being of both the leavers and their children.

    A host of state and policy researchers have examined the well-being of families leaving welfare in the post-reform era. These studies vary widely in the populations they study, how they define a welfare “leaver,” the outcomes that they examine and how those outcomes are measured, and in their methodological rigor. Consequently, it is difficult to use these studies to draw general conclusions about the status of TANF leavers nationwide.

    In an effort to address the above questions about the circumstances of welfare leavers and to facilitate cross-state comparisons, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) of the United States the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) awarded competitive grants to select states and large counties in September, 1998, to conduct studies of families that have left the welfare rolls. This report reviews and synthesizes key findings from fifteen of the ASPE-funded leavers studies.

    The studies, made possible by an earmarked Congressional appropriation to study the outcomes of welfare reform, include both administrative and survey data on the well-being of families who left welfare. This synthesis includes information on welfare leavers’ employment and earnings, public assistance program participation, income and poverty status, material hardships, and child well-being. In addition to publishing reports, grantees constructed public-use files containing state or county administrative data and/or survey data. Public use data from several of the sites are analyzed in this report to examine key outcomes for subgroups that may not have been included in the grantees’ published reports.

    Following the devolution of welfare programs to the state level, ASPE chose a research strategy that combined local flexibility in study design with some efforts to develop comparable measures across the studies in order to facilitate cross-study comparisons. There remain important differences in welfare policies, economic conditions, and the characteristics of leavers across the fifteen study areas that may affect leavers’ post-TANF experiences. However, despite these differences, some clear general patterns emerge. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Gooden, Susan; Doolittle, Fred; Glispie, Ben
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    The passage of federal legislation reforming welfare in 1996 challenged states to be innovative in structuring and administering public assistance for needy families with children. As one of the first states to end Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and replace it with a new program, Wisconsin provided a new vision for many key decisions that states now face about imposing time limits on assistance (within the federal five-year lifetime limit), setting levels of cash assistance, the variety of employment-related services to offer, and how to enforce requirements for participating in services.

    In the Wisconsin Works (W-2) program, applicants for public assistance under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) must be assessed and assigned quickly to one of several “tiers” that entail different levels of cash assistance, different services, and different participation requirements. Two tiers (community service jobs and W-2 transitional placements) have two-year limits unless an extension is granted. Thus, caseworkers' decisions about initial tier...

    The passage of federal legislation reforming welfare in 1996 challenged states to be innovative in structuring and administering public assistance for needy families with children. As one of the first states to end Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and replace it with a new program, Wisconsin provided a new vision for many key decisions that states now face about imposing time limits on assistance (within the federal five-year lifetime limit), setting levels of cash assistance, the variety of employment-related services to offer, and how to enforce requirements for participating in services.

    In the Wisconsin Works (W-2) program, applicants for public assistance under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) must be assessed and assigned quickly to one of several “tiers” that entail different levels of cash assistance, different services, and different participation requirements. Two tiers (community service jobs and W-2 transitional placements) have two-year limits unless an extension is granted. Thus, caseworkers' decisions about initial tier assignments have important implications for participants and the agencies that administer services. Although state policy sets guidelines for making initial tier assignments, caseworkers have much discretion in designing an individualized service plan for applicants and participants. Moreover, in Milwaukee County, the state has contracted with private agencies to administer W-2, and the agencies have developed their own procedures for conducting intake and assessing applicants.

    This report - the first in a series on W-2 administration - describes how the early assessment of applicants' job readiness and service needs was actually done in Milwaukee County during the program's first two years. Based on field research, administrative records, and observations of program operations, it analyzes the initial tier and activity assignments. The study's findings illustrate how W-2 has evolved, how caseworkers have handled the many tasks of enrolling someone in the program, and the challenges of assessing the circumstances and needs of applicants who have serious barriers to employment. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Dearing, Eric; McCartney, Kathleen; Taylor, Beck
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2001

    Hierarchical linear modeling was used to model the dynamics of family income-to-needs for participants of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care (N = 1,364) from the time that children were 1 through 36 months of age. Associations between change in income-to-needs and 36-month child outcomes (i.e., school readiness, receptive language, expressive language, positive social behavior, and behavior problems) were examined. Although change in income-to-needs proved to be of little importance for children from nonpoor families, it proved to be of great importance for children from poor families. For children in poverty, decreases in income-to-needs were associated with worse outcomes and increases were associated with better outcomes. In fact, when children from poor families experienced increases in income-to-needs that were at least 1 SD above the mean change for poor families, they displayed outcomes similar to their nonpoor peers. The practical importance and policy implications of these findings are discussed. (author abstract)

    Hierarchical linear modeling was used to model the dynamics of family income-to-needs for participants of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care (N = 1,364) from the time that children were 1 through 36 months of age. Associations between change in income-to-needs and 36-month child outcomes (i.e., school readiness, receptive language, expressive language, positive social behavior, and behavior problems) were examined. Although change in income-to-needs proved to be of little importance for children from nonpoor families, it proved to be of great importance for children from poor families. For children in poverty, decreases in income-to-needs were associated with worse outcomes and increases were associated with better outcomes. In fact, when children from poor families experienced increases in income-to-needs that were at least 1 SD above the mean change for poor families, they displayed outcomes similar to their nonpoor peers. The practical importance and policy implications of these findings are discussed. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Dworsky, Amy
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2005

    This study uses administrative data to examine the self-sufficiency of 8511 former foster youth who were discharged from Wisconsin's out-of-home care system between 1992 and 1998 and were at least 16 years old at the time they were discharged. Three indicators of self-sufficiency were measured: employment, earnings and public assistance receipt. The youth were followed from the quarter in which they were discharged through the fourth quarter of 2000. Most were employed in at least one of the first eight quarters after their discharge, but relatively few had earnings in all eight. Quarterly earnings increased over time, but remained very low. Earnings were still below the poverty threshold even eight years post-discharge. Nearly one fifth of the youth received AFDC/TANF cash assistance in at least one of their first eight quarters after their discharge, and nearly one third received food stamps. Implementation of welfare reform was associated with a reduction in public assistance receipt, although other economic factors are also likely to have contributed to this downward trend....

    This study uses administrative data to examine the self-sufficiency of 8511 former foster youth who were discharged from Wisconsin's out-of-home care system between 1992 and 1998 and were at least 16 years old at the time they were discharged. Three indicators of self-sufficiency were measured: employment, earnings and public assistance receipt. The youth were followed from the quarter in which they were discharged through the fourth quarter of 2000. Most were employed in at least one of the first eight quarters after their discharge, but relatively few had earnings in all eight. Quarterly earnings increased over time, but remained very low. Earnings were still below the poverty threshold even eight years post-discharge. Nearly one fifth of the youth received AFDC/TANF cash assistance in at least one of their first eight quarters after their discharge, and nearly one third received food stamps. Implementation of welfare reform was associated with a reduction in public assistance receipt, although other economic factors are also likely to have contributed to this downward trend. Relationships between these outcome measures and both the demographic characteristics and out-of-home care experiences of these former foster youth were examined using multivariate statistical techniques. The policy and practice implications of the findings are discussed. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Courtney, Mark; Dworsky, Amy
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2006

    Over the past 2 decades, there has been a fundamental shift in the goals of welfare policy. For many years, Aid to Families with Dependent Children functioned as a financial safety net, providing cash assistance to poor families that could not support themselves. Since the elimination of that entitlement and the creation of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families block grant, state welfare programs focused much more on helping parents find and maintain employment than on providing cash assistance to their families. Although this emphasis on labor force participation may in fact have positive effects, it can become a problem if the other needs of families are not being addressed.

    One of the questions raised by the changes that have resulted from welfare reform is how they might affect child welfare services involvement among welfare-recipient families. Although researchers have examined the relationship between involvement with the child welfare system and welfare receipt (e.g., Fein & Lee 2003; Goerge & Lee, 2000; Needell et al. 1999; Ovwigho et al. 2003; Shook...

    Over the past 2 decades, there has been a fundamental shift in the goals of welfare policy. For many years, Aid to Families with Dependent Children functioned as a financial safety net, providing cash assistance to poor families that could not support themselves. Since the elimination of that entitlement and the creation of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families block grant, state welfare programs focused much more on helping parents find and maintain employment than on providing cash assistance to their families. Although this emphasis on labor force participation may in fact have positive effects, it can become a problem if the other needs of families are not being addressed.

    One of the questions raised by the changes that have resulted from welfare reform is how they might affect child welfare services involvement among welfare-recipient families. Although researchers have examined the relationship between involvement with the child welfare system and welfare receipt (e.g., Fein & Lee 2003; Goerge & Lee, 2000; Needell et al. 1999; Ovwigho et al. 2003; Shook, 1999; Slack et al., 2003; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, 2000), most of those studies focused on the years just prior to or immediately following TANF implementation (e.g., Fein & Lee 2003; Goerge & Lee, 2000; Needell et al. 1999; Shook, 1999; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, 2000). Not only did cash assistance caseloads continue to decline after the data for those studies were collected (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, 2000), but the characteristics of those receiving cash assistance may have changed. Thus, it is conceivable that a different relationship between welfare receipt and child welfare services involvement would be observed if more recent data were used. This paper draws upon data from the Milwaukee TANF Applicant study to address this possibility.

    Our measures of child welfare services involvement are based on administrative data from Wisconsin’s Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (WiSACWIS), which tracks child welfare services involvement including child maltreatment investigations and out-of-home care placements.
    Additional information about sample members was extracted from two other administrative databases:
    • CARES (Client Assistance for Re-employment and Economic Support) tracks participation in public assistance programs and the receipt of public assistance benefits including TANF, food stamps, and childcare assistance.
    • Wisconsin’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage reporting system tracks quarterly earnings from employment covered under the state’s unemployment insurance laws.

    This paper begins with a description of how we measured child welfare services involvement. Next, we present some results pertaining to the prevalence of child welfare services involvement among the TANF applicants in our sample, finding that the families in our study are much more likely to become involved with child welfare services than would be expected based on prior research on populations involved with welfare programs. We then discuss the factors that predict which TANF applicants became involved with the child welfare system, finding a set of predictors that help illustrate the problems these adults are having balancing the demands of work and parenting. Finally, we discuss the policy implications of our findings. (author abstract)

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