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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: Schmidt, Lucie; Danziger, Sheldon
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2009

    We analyze SSI applications and benefit receipt after the 1996 welfare reform by single mothers who received cash assistance in February 1997. We address these questions: First, what characteristics are associated with SSI applications and how do they differ between successful and unsuccessful applicants? Second, to what extent is SSI application and receipt status associated with material hardships? We find that unsuccessful applicants and SSI recipients have similar characteristics and that changes in physical and mental health problems during the panel are associated with new SSI applications. Both SSI recipients and unsuccessful applicants are significantly more likely to report any material hardship than those who did not apply for benefits. However, unsuccessful applicants report a significantly higher number of hardships. These results suggest the need for a temporary disability program for individuals whose physical and mental health problems limit their work, but whose disabilities do not meet the strict standards of SSI. (author abstract)

    We analyze SSI applications and benefit receipt after the 1996 welfare reform by single mothers who received cash assistance in February 1997. We address these questions: First, what characteristics are associated with SSI applications and how do they differ between successful and unsuccessful applicants? Second, to what extent is SSI application and receipt status associated with material hardships? We find that unsuccessful applicants and SSI recipients have similar characteristics and that changes in physical and mental health problems during the panel are associated with new SSI applications. Both SSI recipients and unsuccessful applicants are significantly more likely to report any material hardship than those who did not apply for benefits. However, unsuccessful applicants report a significantly higher number of hardships. These results suggest the need for a temporary disability program for individuals whose physical and mental health problems limit their work, but whose disabilities do not meet the strict standards of SSI. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Miller, Cynthia
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1998

    After its first 18 months, the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) produced substantial effects on the employment and earnings of single-parent, long-term recipients in urban areas. Subsequent analyses revealed that the program had notably different effects on recipients who were in public or subsidized housing at program entry compared with those who were not. Specifically, MFIP's impacts on employment and earnings were larger for the former group. This paper presents MFIP's 18-month impacts by housing status and examines several possible reasons for the pattern of impacts.

    The results indicate that public and subsidized housing does provide benefits, such as residential stability, that may encourage employment, but that these benefits are unlikely to account for the pattern of MFIP’s impacts. The weight of the evidence, although indirect, suggests that another aspect of public and subsidized housing may be important. The work disincentive created by the rent rule may have led to a situation in which many residents in public and subsidized housing were especially...

    After its first 18 months, the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) produced substantial effects on the employment and earnings of single-parent, long-term recipients in urban areas. Subsequent analyses revealed that the program had notably different effects on recipients who were in public or subsidized housing at program entry compared with those who were not. Specifically, MFIP's impacts on employment and earnings were larger for the former group. This paper presents MFIP's 18-month impacts by housing status and examines several possible reasons for the pattern of impacts.

    The results indicate that public and subsidized housing does provide benefits, such as residential stability, that may encourage employment, but that these benefits are unlikely to account for the pattern of MFIP’s impacts. The weight of the evidence, although indirect, suggests that another aspect of public and subsidized housing may be important. The work disincentive created by the rent rule may have led to a situation in which many residents in public and subsidized housing were especially responsive to MFIP’s employment incentives. The evidence on this issue is only suggestive, however, highlighting the need for further research on the interaction between public housing and welfare reform. (author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Hays, Sharon
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 2004

    Hailed as a great success, welfare reform resulted in a dramatic decline in the welfare rolls--from 4.4 million families in 1996 to 2.1 million in 2001. But what does this "success" look like to the welfare mothers and welfare caseworkers who experienced it? In Flat Broke, With Children, Sharon Hays tells us the story of welfare reform from inside the welfare office and inside the lives of welfare mothers, describing the challenges that welfare recipients face in managing their work, their families, and the rules and regulations of welfare reform.

    Welfare reform, experienced on the ground, is not a rosy picture. The majority of adult welfare clients are mothers--over 90 percent--and the time limits imposed by welfare reform throw millions of these mostly unmarried, desperate women into the labor market, where they must accept low wages, the most menial work, the poorest hours, with no benefits, and little flexibility. Hays provides a vivid portrait of their lives--debunking many of the stereotypes we have of welfare recipients--but she also steps back to explore what...

    Hailed as a great success, welfare reform resulted in a dramatic decline in the welfare rolls--from 4.4 million families in 1996 to 2.1 million in 2001. But what does this "success" look like to the welfare mothers and welfare caseworkers who experienced it? In Flat Broke, With Children, Sharon Hays tells us the story of welfare reform from inside the welfare office and inside the lives of welfare mothers, describing the challenges that welfare recipients face in managing their work, their families, and the rules and regulations of welfare reform.

    Welfare reform, experienced on the ground, is not a rosy picture. The majority of adult welfare clients are mothers--over 90 percent--and the time limits imposed by welfare reform throw millions of these mostly unmarried, desperate women into the labor market, where they must accept low wages, the most menial work, the poorest hours, with no benefits, and little flexibility. Hays provides a vivid portrait of their lives--debunking many of the stereotypes we have of welfare recipients--but she also steps back to explore what welfare reform reveals about the meaning of work and family life in our society. In particular, she argues that an inherent contradiction lies at the heart of welfare policy, which emphasizes traditional family values even as its ethic of "personal responsibility" requires women to work and leave their children in childcare or at home alone all day long.

    Hays devoted three years to visiting welfare clients and two welfare offices, one in a medium-sized town in the Southeast, another in a large, metropolitan area in the West. Drawing on this hands-on research, Flat Broke, With Children is the first book to explore the impact of recent welfare reform on motherhood, marriage, and work in women's lives, and the first book to offer us a portrait of how welfare reform plays out in thousands of local welfare offices and in millions of homes across the nation. (publisher abstract)

  • Individual Author: Danziger, Sandra; Corcoran, Mary; Danziger, Sheldon; Heflin, Colleen; Kalil, Ariel; Levine, Judith; Rosen, Daniel; Seefeldt, Kristin; Siefert, Kristine; Tolman, Richard
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    The dramatic reduction in welfare caseloads that followed U.S. welfare reform in 1996 led policy makers and researchers to analyze the employability of recipients remaining on the roles. Analysis of potential barriers to employment can reveal the extent to which current welfare recipients have problems that either singly or in combination interfere with their participating in training programs, complying with new rules, getting and keeping jobs, and increasing their wages. The study on which this paper reports used a new survey of a representative sample of single mothers who were welfare recipients in an urban Michigan country to explore how such employment barriers constrain their employability. (author abstract)

    The dramatic reduction in welfare caseloads that followed U.S. welfare reform in 1996 led policy makers and researchers to analyze the employability of recipients remaining on the roles. Analysis of potential barriers to employment can reveal the extent to which current welfare recipients have problems that either singly or in combination interfere with their participating in training programs, complying with new rules, getting and keeping jobs, and increasing their wages. The study on which this paper reports used a new survey of a representative sample of single mothers who were welfare recipients in an urban Michigan country to explore how such employment barriers constrain their employability. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Knox, Virginia W.; London, Andrew S.; Scott, Ellen
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2003

    As policymakers debate proposals that affect families’ access to child care, they are keenly aware that the system of early education and care must support both parents’ employment goals and children’s developmental needs. But how does the pursuit of these two goals actually play out in the lives of very low-income families in disadvantaged neighborhoods? Examining the work and child care patterns of families who participated in two recent ethnographic studies provides new perspectives on three ways in which policymakers typically view these issues.

    First, policy discussions often divide the child care system into formal care, which in these studies encompasses care that is provided in a day care center or a licensed or certified family day care home, and informal care, which refers to minimally regulated care provided by relatives or neighbors, either in or out of the child’s home. But the ethnographic studies suggest that discussions organized around these distinctions may miss the complex blending of arrangements used by many low-income families. When families in these...

    As policymakers debate proposals that affect families’ access to child care, they are keenly aware that the system of early education and care must support both parents’ employment goals and children’s developmental needs. But how does the pursuit of these two goals actually play out in the lives of very low-income families in disadvantaged neighborhoods? Examining the work and child care patterns of families who participated in two recent ethnographic studies provides new perspectives on three ways in which policymakers typically view these issues.

    First, policy discussions often divide the child care system into formal care, which in these studies encompasses care that is provided in a day care center or a licensed or certified family day care home, and informal care, which refers to minimally regulated care provided by relatives or neighbors, either in or out of the child’s home. But the ethnographic studies suggest that discussions organized around these distinctions may miss the complex blending of arrangements used by many low-income families. When families in these studies did use formal care, it was almost always part of a larger patchwork that included informal situations. Moreover, informal care dominated many blended arrangements and was often used exclusively. Thus, for policy to truly reflect the daily experiences of low-income children, policymakers and advocates concerned with quality of care and child development need to focus on formal care, informal care, and how these forms of care are typically combined in the daily lives of low-income children.

    Second, current subsidy policy emphasizes the goal of enabling parents to choose the care arrangements that best suit their families. In reality, the control that families in these studies had over their choices was highly circumscribed by their limited money, by the sparse care options of their low-resource neighborhoods, and by the inflexibility of their role as employees. Parents ranked their children’s well-being as their top priority, and many said they would leave jobs if their children were ever placed at risk. Nevertheless, they rarely were seen taking this step unless their child care arrangements collapsed completely. Instead, they often resigned themselves to leaving their children in situations they knew were far from ideal.

    Third, the ethnographic interviews highlight a hidden but significant cost of care for low-income single parents — the enormous logistical effort required to keep arrangements intact. This level of effort may, in fact, both conflict with the requirements of parents’ jobs and reduce the amount of attention parents can devote to their children. Moreover, it may prevent parents from applying for and utilizing child care subsidies, because, even though the cost of child care was a primary concern, seeking and maintaining subsidies often seemed to require considerable time and effort.

    To further describe the realities the studies document for these families, this policy brief considers three issues in greater detail: why parents resorted to patchwork and informal care; parents’ experiences with subsidies; and the extent to which their arrangements met minimal standards of health, safety, and predictability. (author abstract)

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