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  • Individual Author: Moreno, Manuel H.; Toros, Halil; Joshi, Vandana; Stevens, Max; Mehrtash, Farhad; Beardsley, Julie; Salem, Nancy; Horton, John; Shaw, Linda
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2005

    The research conducted for this report was undertaken as a result of recommendations made by the Commission for Public Social Services regarding the need for systematic information on welfare sanctions and the sanctioned population in the County of Los Angeles. The proportion of sanctioned welfare participants in the County of Los Angeles over the last two years has been comparable to the sanction rate for the State of California as a whole. Nevertheless, community advocates and policymakers alike have expressed interest in lowering the sanction rate in the County of Los Angeles and enhancing participants’ capacity to comply with Welfare-to-Work requirements. In addition, there is ongoing interest in the extent to which sanctions actually encourage compliance. These issues can only be addressed with rigorous research of the kind that was carried out in preparing this report.

    Several different sources of data and distinct but complementary methods of social research were used to generate this study’s findings. Statistical techniques were employed to analyze administrative...

    The research conducted for this report was undertaken as a result of recommendations made by the Commission for Public Social Services regarding the need for systematic information on welfare sanctions and the sanctioned population in the County of Los Angeles. The proportion of sanctioned welfare participants in the County of Los Angeles over the last two years has been comparable to the sanction rate for the State of California as a whole. Nevertheless, community advocates and policymakers alike have expressed interest in lowering the sanction rate in the County of Los Angeles and enhancing participants’ capacity to comply with Welfare-to-Work requirements. In addition, there is ongoing interest in the extent to which sanctions actually encourage compliance. These issues can only be addressed with rigorous research of the kind that was carried out in preparing this report.

    Several different sources of data and distinct but complementary methods of social research were used to generate this study’s findings. Statistical techniques were employed to analyze administrative records and a staff survey. In addition, focus group interviews were conducted and analyzed for the purpose of obtaining qualitative data on how perceptions of the sanctions process shape the actions taken by both Welfare-to-Work participants and caseworkers. The use of qualitative and quantitative methods in concert with each other enables this report to provide well-rounded information on sanctions, sanctioned participants, and the employees who manage their cases.

    This study covers the period from April 2002 to February 2004. After describing the sanctions policy environment in the County of Los Angeles, this report goes on to identify the County’s sanctioned population, analyze the County’s sanction rates, and look at the amount of time it takes participants to become sanctioned. This report also examines the factors that increase and decrease the probability of both being sanctioned and making a return to compliance after a sanction has been issued. Focus group data reveals many of the challenges that both Welfare-to-Work participants and caseworkers face in the course of engaging with sanctions policy, and staff survey data sheds light on how issues such as caseload size, work experience and the way in which sanction policy is implemented by the GAIN Service Workers affect the frequency of sanctions. The final chapter makes policy recommendations based on this report’s quantitative and qualitative findings. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Klerman, Jacob Alex; Burstain, Jane McClure
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2008

    In 2004, the California legislature passed a bill that tightened the participation requirement for California’s welfare program, the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids program (CalWORKs) and mandated a study of CalWORKs sanction policy for participant noncompliance in the welfare-to-work program. RAND was asked by the California Department of Social Services to carry out this study. Researchers found that county welfare caseworkers’ implementation of the state’s statutory sanction policy makes the sanctions weaker in practice than might have been expected given stated policy. Both caseworkers and higher-level county welfare department employees are strongly reluctant to sanction clients. Furthermore, caseworkers perceive the statutory noncompliance process to be burdensome. Finally, the implementation of sanction policy varies widely across California’s 58 counties. RAND noted three possible directions for reforming California’s sanction policy and practice: (1) swifter sanctions, (2) stronger sanctions with greater financial penalties, and (3...

    In 2004, the California legislature passed a bill that tightened the participation requirement for California’s welfare program, the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids program (CalWORKs) and mandated a study of CalWORKs sanction policy for participant noncompliance in the welfare-to-work program. RAND was asked by the California Department of Social Services to carry out this study. Researchers found that county welfare caseworkers’ implementation of the state’s statutory sanction policy makes the sanctions weaker in practice than might have been expected given stated policy. Both caseworkers and higher-level county welfare department employees are strongly reluctant to sanction clients. Furthermore, caseworkers perceive the statutory noncompliance process to be burdensome. Finally, the implementation of sanction policy varies widely across California’s 58 counties. RAND noted three possible directions for reforming California’s sanction policy and practice: (1) swifter sanctions, (2) stronger sanctions with greater financial penalties, and (3) safer sanctions, to ensure that clients are not inappropriately sanctioned due to some combination of caseworker error, lack of knowledge of how to remedy the sanction, or the existence of undisclosed serious barriers. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Bagdasaryan, Sofya; Matthias, Ruth; Ong, Paul; Houston, Douglas
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2005

    The federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 was the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. welfare program for poor families with children since its inception in the 1935 Social Security Act. To comply with the new federal law, California passed its Temporary Assistance to Needy Families plan in August 1997. Counties began implementing the new program, CalWORKs (California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids), on January 1, 1998.

    The federal law increased work participation requirements for able-bodied adults and restricted the circumstances under which recipients can be exempted from working or engaging in work-related activities. If adults fail to comply with program rules without good cause, states reduce or eliminate cash aid to their households. These sanctions, or the threat of these sanctions, are intended both to motivate recipients to comply with work-related program requirements and, for those under sanction, to hasten their return to compliance (generally referred to as “curing” or “lifting” the sanctions).

    The...

    The federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 was the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. welfare program for poor families with children since its inception in the 1935 Social Security Act. To comply with the new federal law, California passed its Temporary Assistance to Needy Families plan in August 1997. Counties began implementing the new program, CalWORKs (California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids), on January 1, 1998.

    The federal law increased work participation requirements for able-bodied adults and restricted the circumstances under which recipients can be exempted from working or engaging in work-related activities. If adults fail to comply with program rules without good cause, states reduce or eliminate cash aid to their households. These sanctions, or the threat of these sanctions, are intended both to motivate recipients to comply with work-related program requirements and, for those under sanction, to hasten their return to compliance (generally referred to as “curing” or “lifting” the sanctions).

    The federal legislation gave states some leeway in defining the terms of recipient compliance and in prescribing the severity of the sanction for noncompliance. In California, CalWORKs requires adult heads of single-parent families to engage in 32 hours a week of work and work-related activities averaged over a month (the federal minimum in order to count toward the state’s work participation rate requirement is 30 hours). As under prior law, California imposes partial-family sanctions: a reduced cash grant to children in families in which the adult or adults have lost assistance because of noncompliance. In California, the policy did not change markedly, but sanctions are imposed more frequently than under the Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN) program, the predecessor to CalWORKs.

    In order to better understand how California counties administer sanctions, the University of California’s Welfare Policy Research Project commissioned a study to answer six questions:

    (1) How do counties implement sanction procedures prescribed by CalWORKs? (2) How, if at all, do counties attempt to prevent sanctions, and how do they help recipients to lift a sanction once it has been imposed? (3) How knowledgeable are county welfare workers about CalWORKs sanction policies, and (4) what opinions do they hold about the purpose and efficacy of sanctions? (5) How well do recipients in these counties understand sanction policies, and (6) what have their experiences been with these policies? To address these questions, we examined in depth the sanction policies and procedures in four highly disparate counties: Alameda, Fresno, Kern, and San Diego. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Wu, Chi-Fang; Cancian, Maria; Meyer, Daniel R.; Wallace, Geoffrey
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2004

    Under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, families are subject to greater work requirements, and the severity of sanction for noncompliance has increased. Using Wisconsin longitudinal administrative data, the authors performed event history analysis to examine the dynamic patterns of sanctioning and the patterns of benefits following a sanction. They found that very high rates of sanctioning (especially partial sanctions) and multiple sanctions were fairly common but sanction spells were quite short. The most common transition from a sanction was back to full benefit receipt. The authors also examined the factors associated with being sanctioned and the severity of sanctions by comparing a traditional model with an event history model. They found that it is important to estimate a model that takes into account the period of risk. Results confirm that those who may be least able to succeed in the labor market are most likely to be sanctioned. (author abstract)

    This article is based on a...

    Under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, families are subject to greater work requirements, and the severity of sanction for noncompliance has increased. Using Wisconsin longitudinal administrative data, the authors performed event history analysis to examine the dynamic patterns of sanctioning and the patterns of benefits following a sanction. They found that very high rates of sanctioning (especially partial sanctions) and multiple sanctions were fairly common but sanction spells were quite short. The most common transition from a sanction was back to full benefit receipt. The authors also examined the factors associated with being sanctioned and the severity of sanctions by comparing a traditional model with an event history model. They found that it is important to estimate a model that takes into account the period of risk. Results confirm that those who may be least able to succeed in the labor market are most likely to be sanctioned. (author abstract)

    This article is based on a working paper that was previously published by the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin- Madison.

  • Individual Author: Cherlin, Andrew; Burton, Linda; Francis, Judith; Henrici, Jane; Lein, Laura; Quane, James; Bogen, Karen
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    Seventeen percent of a sample of current and recent welfare recipients in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio reported that their benefits had been reduced or stopped because the welfare office said they weren’t following the rules. These penalties resulted from both partial and full-family sanctions as well as from case closings for procedural reasons. Recipients reported that the most common reasons were missing an appointment or failing to file required paperwork. Only 12 percent of the penalties were imposed for failing to take a job or to show up for a job-related activity. Individuals whose benefits were reduced or stopped were more disadvantaged than other recipients in many respects, such as education, health, financial difficulties, housing quality, and neighborhood quality. Former recipients who reported leaving the welfare rolls because of sanctions or case closings had substantially lower employment rates and earnings than did those who left for other reasons. These findings suggest that agencies and organizations may wish to give more attention to families at imminent...

    Seventeen percent of a sample of current and recent welfare recipients in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio reported that their benefits had been reduced or stopped because the welfare office said they weren’t following the rules. These penalties resulted from both partial and full-family sanctions as well as from case closings for procedural reasons. Recipients reported that the most common reasons were missing an appointment or failing to file required paperwork. Only 12 percent of the penalties were imposed for failing to take a job or to show up for a job-related activity. Individuals whose benefits were reduced or stopped were more disadvantaged than other recipients in many respects, such as education, health, financial difficulties, housing quality, and neighborhood quality. Former recipients who reported leaving the welfare rolls because of sanctions or case closings had substantially lower employment rates and earnings than did those who left for other reasons. These findings suggest that agencies and organizations may wish to give more attention to families at imminent risk of sanctions or case closings to help them come into compliance. They also suggest that families who leave welfare due to noncompliance may need more assistance in finding and retaining employment. (author abstract)

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