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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: Bowie, Stan L.; Dopwell, Donna M.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2013

    The mixed-method study examined welfare-reliant, female heads of households and the multilayered and persistent barriers they face in their attempts to obtain employment to sustain their families. The 30 respondents, aged 25–34, were African Americans and Latinas receiving various forms of public assistance and were plagued by a host of serious problems. The African American respondents were native-born American citizens who spoke only English, and almost all the Latina respondents spoke only Spanish and were born in South or Central America, Cuba, or the West Indies. A higher level of interpersonal violence was reported among the African American cohort. There were other strong contrasts between the cohorts, including the mean number of children, educational level, work experience, and type of housing. The theoretical framework for the study was liberationist feminist social work practice. The results revealed an alarming array of simultaneously occurring “metastressors” that are complex, comprehensive, suffocating to many respondents, and more difficult to resolve over time....

    The mixed-method study examined welfare-reliant, female heads of households and the multilayered and persistent barriers they face in their attempts to obtain employment to sustain their families. The 30 respondents, aged 25–34, were African Americans and Latinas receiving various forms of public assistance and were plagued by a host of serious problems. The African American respondents were native-born American citizens who spoke only English, and almost all the Latina respondents spoke only Spanish and were born in South or Central America, Cuba, or the West Indies. A higher level of interpersonal violence was reported among the African American cohort. There were other strong contrasts between the cohorts, including the mean number of children, educational level, work experience, and type of housing. The theoretical framework for the study was liberationist feminist social work practice. The results revealed an alarming array of simultaneously occurring “metastressors” that are complex, comprehensive, suffocating to many respondents, and more difficult to resolve over time. The study challenges the assumptions on which the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families operates, including its political origins and its current regulations that mandate time limits on assistance in spite of persistent national economic problems. The issue of intersectionality is explored in relation to gender and racial oppression in the United States and in terms of promoting positive social change among oppressed groups. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Heinrich, Carolyn J.; Smeeding, Timothy M.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2014

    This policy brief, the second of two drawn from the IRP and CHASP conference on "Building Human Capital and Economic Potential," examines the special challenges of people with less than a high school diploma, ex-offenders, and young single mothers and policy options to address them. (author abstract)

    This policy brief, the second of two drawn from the IRP and CHASP conference on "Building Human Capital and Economic Potential," examines the special challenges of people with less than a high school diploma, ex-offenders, and young single mothers and policy options to address them. (author abstract)

  • 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: Knox, Virginia; Miller, Cynthia; Gennetian, Lisa
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2000

    The Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) represents a new vision of welfare as a system that can simultaneously encourage work, reduce dependence on public assistance, and reduce poverty. It attempts to break loose from the historical tradeoffs among these goals by implementing two complementary policies: financial incentives to reward work and reduce poverty and, for long-term welfare recipients, mandatory participation in employment-focused services to encourage and require work and reduce dependence.

    MFIP was initially implemented as a pilot program in the three urban counties of Hennepin (Minneapolis), Anoka, and Dakota, and the four rural counties of Mille Lacs, Morrison, Sherburne, and Todd. The pilot program operated from April 1994 to June 1998 and was evaluated by MDRC under contract to the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The evaluation was also supported by the agencies and foundations listed at the front of this summary. A modified version of MFIP is now Minnesota’s statewide welfare program.

    This document summarizes the results presented in...

    The Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) represents a new vision of welfare as a system that can simultaneously encourage work, reduce dependence on public assistance, and reduce poverty. It attempts to break loose from the historical tradeoffs among these goals by implementing two complementary policies: financial incentives to reward work and reduce poverty and, for long-term welfare recipients, mandatory participation in employment-focused services to encourage and require work and reduce dependence.

    MFIP was initially implemented as a pilot program in the three urban counties of Hennepin (Minneapolis), Anoka, and Dakota, and the four rural counties of Mille Lacs, Morrison, Sherburne, and Todd. The pilot program operated from April 1994 to June 1998 and was evaluated by MDRC under contract to the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The evaluation was also supported by the agencies and foundations listed at the front of this summary. A modified version of MFIP is now Minnesota’s statewide welfare program.

    This document summarizes the results presented in the evaluation’s final report. Volume 1 of that report examines MFIP’s effects on employment, earnings, welfare receipt, income, marriage, and other outcomes for adults in single- and two-parent families for up to three years after they entered the study. Volume 2 presents the results of a special study of MFIP’s effects on children and other aspects of family well-being for single mothers who had at least one child aged 2 to 9 when they entered the study.

    MFIP’s results are particularly important because more than 40 states have incorporated a “make work pay” approach in conjunction with work requirements as part of their new, time-limited welfare reforms, which followed enactment of the 1996 federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). Most commonly — as in MFIP — states have aimed to make work pay by increasing their “earned income disregard”: More of a family’s earnings are disregarded (not counted) when their welfare grant is calculated. This policy allows more people to combine work and welfare. As discussed later, MFIP also included other financial incentives to work. The MFIP pilot program did not include time limits on welfare receipt, but the newer, statewide version does.

    The evaluation results speak directly to three goals that have emerged as high priorities under PRWORA: ensuring that long-term welfare recipients make substantial strides toward self-sufficiency before reaching their time limits on welfare receipt, supporting the efforts of low-income workers to advance in their jobs and provide adequately for their families, and assuring that social policies do not discourage marriage.

    To assess MFIP’s success in achieving its ambitious goals, the evaluation used a rigorous, random assignment research design. Between April 1994 and March 1996, more than 14,000 families in seven Minnesota counties were assigned, using a lottery-like process, to either the MFIP program (the “MFIP group”) or the traditional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program (the “AFDC group”). MFIP’s effects were estimated by following the two groups over time and comparing their employment, welfare receipt, and other outcomes. The difference in outcomes between the two groups is the effect, or impact, of the MFIP program. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Cook, Kay
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2012

    Following the United States’ lead, the emergence of neoliberal welfare policy across the western world has resulted in employment programmes for single parents, who are predominantly single mothers. While some governments claim that employment will improve single parents’ incomes and well-being, researchers dispute that single parents can unproblematically move into the workforce, with net positive effects. While researchers have quantified the socio-economic effect of these programmes, in particular on participant health, no study has yet synthesized participants’ experiences of welfare-to-work. Here, I present a meta-synthesis of eight qualitative health-related studies of single parents’ (and exclusively single mothers’) welfare-to-work transition. I report that single mothers faced a combination of health and economic issues which made their transition from welfare to work difficult, including degrees of poor physical and mental health. For participants in the United States, these health issues were often compounded by a loss of health benefits on moving into low-wage...

    Following the United States’ lead, the emergence of neoliberal welfare policy across the western world has resulted in employment programmes for single parents, who are predominantly single mothers. While some governments claim that employment will improve single parents’ incomes and well-being, researchers dispute that single parents can unproblematically move into the workforce, with net positive effects. While researchers have quantified the socio-economic effect of these programmes, in particular on participant health, no study has yet synthesized participants’ experiences of welfare-to-work. Here, I present a meta-synthesis of eight qualitative health-related studies of single parents’ (and exclusively single mothers’) welfare-to-work transition. I report that single mothers faced a combination of health and economic issues which made their transition from welfare to work difficult, including degrees of poor physical and mental health. For participants in the United States, these health issues were often compounded by a loss of health benefits on moving into low-wage employment. In countries where a return to employment was required before children reached school age, a lack of affordable and appropriate child care, especially for children with health problems, exacerbated these difficulties. As a result of scarce resources, single mothers in receipt of welfare benefits often relied on food banks or went without food. A return to the workforce did not alleviate this problem as additional child care and reduced government subsidies depleted the funds available for food. I conclude that welfare-to-work policies are underpinned by the neoliberal assumption that the market more efficiently distributes resources than the State. However, for the women in the studies examined here, labour market participation often depleted access to essential resources. Interventions to address the ‘problem’ of welfare dependency must recognize the complex interplay between work incentives and disincentives and the care-work of single mothers. (author abstract)

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