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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: Cancian, Maria ; Meyer, Daniel
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 1996

    Wisconsin is at the forefront of a national movement to require AFDC recipients to find employment. The move toward work-based welfare reform raises important questions about the job prospects, potential wages, and child care responsibilities of current recipients. To begin answering these questions, we analyzed administrative data concerning the characteristics of Wisconsin women who headed AFDC-Regular (primarily single parent) cases, which account for about 80 percent of all AFDC cases in Wisconsin.

    We first looked at changes in the state’s caseload from 1983 to 1993 to learn whether the remarkable decline in the number of AFDC recipients that took place over that period meant that those who were better prepared for work had already left the rolls. We found that, over the decade, the AFDC-Regular caseload increasingly contained recipients with low levels of education, larger families, and younger children. The percentage of those recipients who lacked a high school diploma rose from 35 to 42 percent of the total; the proportion of families with more than one child grew...

    Wisconsin is at the forefront of a national movement to require AFDC recipients to find employment. The move toward work-based welfare reform raises important questions about the job prospects, potential wages, and child care responsibilities of current recipients. To begin answering these questions, we analyzed administrative data concerning the characteristics of Wisconsin women who headed AFDC-Regular (primarily single parent) cases, which account for about 80 percent of all AFDC cases in Wisconsin.

    We first looked at changes in the state’s caseload from 1983 to 1993 to learn whether the remarkable decline in the number of AFDC recipients that took place over that period meant that those who were better prepared for work had already left the rolls. We found that, over the decade, the AFDC-Regular caseload increasingly contained recipients with low levels of education, larger families, and younger children. The percentage of those recipients who lacked a high school diploma rose from 35 to 42 percent of the total; the proportion of families with more than one child grew from 50 to 57 percent; and families with a preschool child increased from 62 to 72 percent. These figures indicate that the current caseload includes a greater proportion of individuals who face barriers to full-time work. To learn more about the nature of those barriers, we turned to a close examination of those who were recipients in December 1993, the latest date for which information was available at the time of our study. (author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Wiseman, Michael
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 1996

    The experience of Wisconsin is commonly cited as evidence of the capability of states for reforming welfare. Wisconsin’s welfare caseload declined by 22.5 percent between December 1986 and December 1994. This paper argues that the decline was most likely the product of restriction of eligibility and benefits, a strong state economy, and large expenditures on welfare-to-work programs encouraged by an exceptional fiscal bargain with the federal government. Opportunities for continued reduction of welfare utilization by means other than denying access are jeopardized by proposed changes in federal cost-sharing, a prospective state deficit, and the growing share of the caseload accounted for by residents of Milwaukee. Wisconsin Works, the state’s plan for public assistance in a post-block-grant world, continues benefit reduction and eligibility restriction but expands emphasis on employment. The special circumstances enjoyed by Wisconsin are unlikely to be duplicated elsewhere. Other states and the federal government should not assume that expanded state discretion will produce...

    The experience of Wisconsin is commonly cited as evidence of the capability of states for reforming welfare. Wisconsin’s welfare caseload declined by 22.5 percent between December 1986 and December 1994. This paper argues that the decline was most likely the product of restriction of eligibility and benefits, a strong state economy, and large expenditures on welfare-to-work programs encouraged by an exceptional fiscal bargain with the federal government. Opportunities for continued reduction of welfare utilization by means other than denying access are jeopardized by proposed changes in federal cost-sharing, a prospective state deficit, and the growing share of the caseload accounted for by residents of Milwaukee. Wisconsin Works, the state’s plan for public assistance in a post-block-grant world, continues benefit reduction and eligibility restriction but expands emphasis on employment. The special circumstances enjoyed by Wisconsin are unlikely to be duplicated elsewhere. Other states and the federal government should not assume that expanded state discretion will produce comparable gains unless accompanied by major outlays for employment and training programs, reduction in benefits, and tightening of eligibility requirements. The first policy is expensive to taxpayers; the second and third approaches harm recipients. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Frye, Judith; Caspar, Emma
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1997

    Wisconsin’s Learnfare program is intended to encourage enrollment, regular attendance, and high school graduation or the completion of high school equivalency programs among 13- to 19-year-old recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). These teenagers, who can be either dependent children or parents, risk losing part or all of their families’ monthly AFDC grants if they do not maintain enrollment and acceptable school attendance. In addition, the program offers participating families assistance in identifying and correcting the causes of attendance problems, and services such as day care for the teenagers’ children, transportation, and referral to alternative education programs. The program was administered by the Department of Health and Social Services until July 1996, when that responsibility was transferred to the new Department of Workforce Development.

    This evaluation report describes the effects of Learnfare on the school participation and school completion of teenagers and on their families’ public assistance...

    Wisconsin’s Learnfare program is intended to encourage enrollment, regular attendance, and high school graduation or the completion of high school equivalency programs among 13- to 19-year-old recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). These teenagers, who can be either dependent children or parents, risk losing part or all of their families’ monthly AFDC grants if they do not maintain enrollment and acceptable school attendance. In addition, the program offers participating families assistance in identifying and correcting the causes of attendance problems, and services such as day care for the teenagers’ children, transportation, and referral to alternative education programs. The program was administered by the Department of Health and Social Services until July 1996, when that responsibility was transferred to the new Department of Workforce Development.

    This evaluation report describes the effects of Learnfare on the school participation and school completion of teenagers and on their families’ public assistance payments. Because individuals entered the sample at different times, some were in the study for longer than others. All sample members were tracked for at least four semesters after introduction to Learnfare. Six semesters of data are reported for those who entered the sample earliest. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Regenstein, Marsha; Meyer, Jack A.; Hicks, Jennifer Dickemper
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1998

    While much of the welfare reform debate has centered on the supply side of the labor market-how to motivate welfare recipients to search for and take jobs-less attention has been paid to the demand side. Under what conditions will employers hire people on welfare? What are their requirements and expectations? What kinds of jobs are available to people leaving welfare, and what pay and benefits are offered?

    This brief presents the key results of a nationwide survey conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) as part of the Assessing the New Federalism project to determine employers' attitudes about hiring welfare recipients. The survey was predicated on the idea that if states have a better understanding of employers' attitudes and requirements, they will be better able to design successful approaches to moving people into jobs and helping them stay there.

    The survey included 500 businesses at the establishment level (e.g., individual stores, plants, or offices) in industries likely to have higher-than-average numbers of entry-level...

    While much of the welfare reform debate has centered on the supply side of the labor market-how to motivate welfare recipients to search for and take jobs-less attention has been paid to the demand side. Under what conditions will employers hire people on welfare? What are their requirements and expectations? What kinds of jobs are available to people leaving welfare, and what pay and benefits are offered?

    This brief presents the key results of a nationwide survey conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) as part of the Assessing the New Federalism project to determine employers' attitudes about hiring welfare recipients. The survey was predicated on the idea that if states have a better understanding of employers' attitudes and requirements, they will be better able to design successful approaches to moving people into jobs and helping them stay there.

    The survey included 500 businesses at the establishment level (e.g., individual stores, plants, or offices) in industries likely to have higher-than-average numbers of entry-level workers. The ESRI sample consists mostly of small employers with fewer than 50 workers. In order to gain insight into any potential differences in attitudes among establishments of different sizes, however, we oversampled those with 100 or more employees.

    We conducted an additional 200 interviews-100 each in Los Angeles and Milwaukee-to see how these two cities might differ from national responses. Both of these cities have large welfare populations. Milwaukee is considered a national leader in innovative welfare-to-work initiatives, while Los Angeles is a large urban area with a diverse population that includes many immigrants.

    Prior to undertaking the large national survey, we conducted a small exploratory telephone survey of 25 employers. Their responses, emerging from in-depth discussions, were very similar to the findings in the national sample. (author abstract)

  • 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)

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