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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: Burke, Vee; Falk, Gene
    Year: 2001

    The 1996 welfare reform law (P.L. 104-193) established a block grant program for time-limited and work-conditioned aid for needy families with children called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). TANF requires that states penalize families if a recipient refuses to engage in required work. States determine actual penalties. According to TANF state plans, for a first violation, 19 states end family benefits until compliance, or for a minimum penalty period. Others reduce benefits for a first infraction. For repeat violations, penalties are increased in size or length. Counting both first and subsequent violations, 38 jurisdictions under some circumstances have provisions to penalize work infractions by ending family benefits for a time. Ultimately, seven of those 38 jurisdictions end family benefits for life. In FY1999, sanctions (including some not related to work) caused the closing of 156,000 TANF cases (6% of all closures). (author abstract)

    The 1996 welfare reform law (P.L. 104-193) established a block grant program for time-limited and work-conditioned aid for needy families with children called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). TANF requires that states penalize families if a recipient refuses to engage in required work. States determine actual penalties. According to TANF state plans, for a first violation, 19 states end family benefits until compliance, or for a minimum penalty period. Others reduce benefits for a first infraction. For repeat violations, penalties are increased in size or length. Counting both first and subsequent violations, 38 jurisdictions under some circumstances have provisions to penalize work infractions by ending family benefits for a time. Ultimately, seven of those 38 jurisdictions end family benefits for life. In FY1999, sanctions (including some not related to work) caused the closing of 156,000 TANF cases (6% of all closures). (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Brown, June
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1999

    This is one of three OIG reports on how States administer client sanctions under TANF. One companion report, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: Improving the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Client Sanctions (OEI-09-98-00290), provides a broad overview of State administration of client sanctions. The other, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families:  Improving Client Sanction Notices (OEI-09-98-00292), reviews State methods for informing clients of sanction decisions via written notices.

    The purpose of this report is to determine how States inform clients about sanction policies under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.  We find that:

    - TANF offices explain sanctions to clients repeatedly, using diverse methods

    - Orientation materials commonly lack information about the amount of the sanction and the definition of good cause

    - Most States describe other vital information about sanctions completely and present it in a logical format

    - TANF clients do not fully understand sanctions and, according to caseworkers, are not...

    This is one of three OIG reports on how States administer client sanctions under TANF. One companion report, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: Improving the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Client Sanctions (OEI-09-98-00290), provides a broad overview of State administration of client sanctions. The other, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families:  Improving Client Sanction Notices (OEI-09-98-00292), reviews State methods for informing clients of sanction decisions via written notices.

    The purpose of this report is to determine how States inform clients about sanction policies under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.  We find that:

    - TANF offices explain sanctions to clients repeatedly, using diverse methods

    - Orientation materials commonly lack information about the amount of the sanction and the definition of good cause

    - Most States describe other vital information about sanctions completely and present it in a logical format

    - TANF clients do not fully understand sanctions and, according to caseworkers, are not concerned about sanctions until they are imposed

    We recommend that the Administration for Children and Families encourage States to provide complete, correct, and understandable information to clients on: the causes of sanctions; the amounts of sanctions; the duration of sanctions; “good cause” reasons for work exemptions; and client appeal, fair hearing, and, if applicable, conciliation rights. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Brown, June
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1999

    We purposefully selected eight States in which to visit at least one urban and one rural office. In total, we visited 26 TANF offices, where we held caseworker focus groups, director interviews, and limited case-file reviews of recently sanctioned cases with individual caseworkers. At 19 of the offices, we conducted client focus groups and also interviewed at least one advocacy group in each State. In addition, we collected sanction policies and notices from each State. Lastly, we reviewed 47 notices issued by the offices that we visited, evaluating each for completeness and clarity.

    The methods we used during this study pose some distinct advantages and disadvantages for the scope of our findings. The purposeful sample allowed us to examine sanction implementation in States with widely varying attributes. We also gained a thorough understanding of our respondents’ relationships with and attitudes towards sanctions. Our methodology precludes us, however, from commenting on the extent to which our findings and observations are representative nationwide. We also cannot...

    We purposefully selected eight States in which to visit at least one urban and one rural office. In total, we visited 26 TANF offices, where we held caseworker focus groups, director interviews, and limited case-file reviews of recently sanctioned cases with individual caseworkers. At 19 of the offices, we conducted client focus groups and also interviewed at least one advocacy group in each State. In addition, we collected sanction policies and notices from each State. Lastly, we reviewed 47 notices issued by the offices that we visited, evaluating each for completeness and clarity.

    The methods we used during this study pose some distinct advantages and disadvantages for the scope of our findings. The purposeful sample allowed us to examine sanction implementation in States with widely varying attributes. We also gained a thorough understanding of our respondents’ relationships with and attitudes towards sanctions. Our methodology precludes us, however, from commenting on the extent to which our findings and observations are representative nationwide. We also cannot evaluate direct outcomes of sanction policies, procedures, and practices on clients and the program.

    Comprehensive and understandable notices can improve the sanction process. A sanction notice with complete information in a clear format can improve client understanding and help alleviate frustration for both clients and caseworkers.

    Sanction notices are deficient in some respects. Although most notices adequately explain some sanction details, many lack instructions on how to cure sanctions and do not reference local legal aid. A few notices contain incorrect information which can mislead clients and create extra work for caseworkers. Confusing wording on notices impedes client understanding, an effect heightened by language barriers. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Bloom, Dan; Winstead, Don
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    Financial sanctions have long been used to enforce work requirements in the welfare system, but more frequent and severe sanctions have been a central feature of the welfare reforms of the 1990s. Sanctions will be an important discussion topic in 2002 when Congress debates reauthorization of the 1996 welfare reform law. Some will argue that states should be required to use “full-family” sanctions that terminate the entire cash benefit, while others will push for restrictions on completely terminating cash benefits and new requirements for states to reach out to noncompliant families before imposing complete termination. There is little hard evidence to inform this debate. Studies have found that welfare recipients who are sanctioned are a diverse group but, on average, face more barriers to employment than other recipients; they are also less likely to work after leaving welfare. Studies have also found that enforcing work requirements is important, but it is not clear whether complete termination of benefits is more effective than partial termination. We believe states should...

    Financial sanctions have long been used to enforce work requirements in the welfare system, but more frequent and severe sanctions have been a central feature of the welfare reforms of the 1990s. Sanctions will be an important discussion topic in 2002 when Congress debates reauthorization of the 1996 welfare reform law. Some will argue that states should be required to use “full-family” sanctions that terminate the entire cash benefit, while others will push for restrictions on completely terminating cash benefits and new requirements for states to reach out to noncompliant families before imposing complete termination. There is little hard evidence to inform this debate. Studies have found that welfare recipients who are sanctioned are a diverse group but, on average, face more barriers to employment than other recipients; they are also less likely to work after leaving welfare. Studies have also found that enforcing work requirements is important, but it is not clear whether complete termination of benefits is more effective than partial termination. We believe states should continue to have flexibility in setting sanction policies. To reduce inappropriate sanctions, Congress could expand the types of work activities for disadvantaged recipients, and require states to describe both how they will inform recipients about exemptions from work requirements and what is required to remove a sanction. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Lindhorst, Taryn; Mancoske, Ronald J.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2006

    A central feature of the reforms enacted through the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (welfare reform) has been the adoption of strategies to involuntarily remove Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients from the welfare rolls, including increased use of sanctions and time limits on welfare receipt. Drawing on data from a three year panel study of women who had been receiving welfare in a state which adopted stringent sanctioning and time limit policies, we investigate predictors of recipients’ TANF status after implementation of welfare reform, and identify differences in post-reform material resources, hardships and quality of life based on TANF status. Almost half of all welfare case closures during the first time period after reforms were implemented through involuntary strategies. Relatively few baseline characteristics predicted different outcomes once welfare time limits and sanctions were implemented. Those who were timed off welfare had substantially lower incomes in the year following their removal. One third of all...

    A central feature of the reforms enacted through the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (welfare reform) has been the adoption of strategies to involuntarily remove Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients from the welfare rolls, including increased use of sanctions and time limits on welfare receipt. Drawing on data from a three year panel study of women who had been receiving welfare in a state which adopted stringent sanctioning and time limit policies, we investigate predictors of recipients’ TANF status after implementation of welfare reform, and identify differences in post-reform material resources, hardships and quality of life based on TANF status. Almost half of all welfare case closures during the first time period after reforms were implemented through involuntary strategies. Relatively few baseline characteristics predicted different outcomes once welfare time limits and sanctions were implemented. Those who were timed off welfare had substantially lower incomes in the year following their removal. One third of all respondents, regardless of reason for leaving TANF reported having insufficient food, housing problems and lack of access to needed medical care. (author abstract)

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