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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: Hulsey, Lara; Conway, Kevin; Gothro, Andrew; Kleinman, Rebecca; Reilly, Megan; Cody, Scott; Sama-Miller, Emily
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a critical source of support for many low-income families. Because eligibility for program benefits is linked to income, participation in the program tends to be higher in hard economic times. This has proven particularly true in recent years. From 2000 to 2011, average monthly participation in SNAP rose from 17.2 million to 44.7 million people, an increase of almost 160 percent.

    Although difficult economic times lead to increased caseloads, they also lead to smaller state budgets. Under federal law, states are required to pay 50 percent of the costs for administering SNAP. Thus, in recent years states have incurred higher administrative costs while facing increasingly constrained budgets.

    In response to these trends, states have sought to reduce administrative costs while maintaining or increasing access to SNAP and other programs, among those eligible. The changes states have made are commonly referred to as modernization. Although modernization means different things in different states, it typically refers...

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a critical source of support for many low-income families. Because eligibility for program benefits is linked to income, participation in the program tends to be higher in hard economic times. This has proven particularly true in recent years. From 2000 to 2011, average monthly participation in SNAP rose from 17.2 million to 44.7 million people, an increase of almost 160 percent.

    Although difficult economic times lead to increased caseloads, they also lead to smaller state budgets. Under federal law, states are required to pay 50 percent of the costs for administering SNAP. Thus, in recent years states have incurred higher administrative costs while facing increasingly constrained budgets.

    In response to these trends, states have sought to reduce administrative costs while maintaining or increasing access to SNAP and other programs, among those eligible. The changes states have made are commonly referred to as modernization. Although modernization means different things in different states, it typically refers to steps that state SNAP agencies take to streamline intake and eligibility determination. Modernization can include changes to how clients apply for benefits, are interviewed, and report changes to their circumstances over time. It can also include changes to less visible operations, such as allocation of work across agency staff, income verification methods, and supporting documentation storage practices.

    In 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) commissioned Mathematica Policy Research to conduct in-depth case studies examining selected states’ SNAP-related modernization efforts. The goals of this study include developing a detailed understanding of the changes made and investigating whether state measures of program efficiency, access, and integrity have changed since states implemented their modernization initiatives.

    This report presents a comprehensive picture of each state’s experiences with modernization, assesses the potential impacts, and identifies key lessons learned. The data collected span from July 2000 to February 2012. Changes occurring after that time period are not presented. The findings can help policymakers and program administrators at the national and state levels understand the implications of modernization changes and identify effective strategies and practices when replicating these efforts, while avoiding implementation pitfalls. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Strawn, Julie
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2011

    Students forced to complete a long sequence of remedial or English language classes before they can begin their postsecondary program rarely earn college certificates or degrees. This brief highlights six promising programs that show how career pathway bridges help lower-skilled students move farther and faster along college and career paths through dual enrollment in linked basic skills and occupational certificate courses. Because creating such bridges requires collaboration across college silos, they can also transform the way colleges operate. (author abstract)

    Students forced to complete a long sequence of remedial or English language classes before they can begin their postsecondary program rarely earn college certificates or degrees. This brief highlights six promising programs that show how career pathway bridges help lower-skilled students move farther and faster along college and career paths through dual enrollment in linked basic skills and occupational certificate courses. Because creating such bridges requires collaboration across college silos, they can also transform the way colleges operate. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: United States Government Accountability Office
    Year: 2011

    Between fiscal years 2000 and 2008, TANF child-only cases increased slightly but represented a greater share of the overall TANF caseload because cases with adults in the assistance unit experienced a significant decline. The national composition of the TANF child-only caseload has remained relatively unchanged since 2000. At the end of 2010, the majority of children receiving TANF lived with parents who were ineligible for cash assistance, and one-third lived with nonparent caregivers who were relatives or unrelated adults. However, this composition varies by state. For example, in Tennessee, almost 60 percent of the TANF child-only caseload included children living with nonparent caregivers, compared with about 30 percent in Texas.

    Most nonparent caregivers in TANF child-only cases are unmarried women who are over 50 years old, and research suggests that they often have low incomes and health problems. The children tend to be related to their caregiver, who is often a grandparent, and they remain on assistance for at least 2 years. Some of these children live with...

    Between fiscal years 2000 and 2008, TANF child-only cases increased slightly but represented a greater share of the overall TANF caseload because cases with adults in the assistance unit experienced a significant decline. The national composition of the TANF child-only caseload has remained relatively unchanged since 2000. At the end of 2010, the majority of children receiving TANF lived with parents who were ineligible for cash assistance, and one-third lived with nonparent caregivers who were relatives or unrelated adults. However, this composition varies by state. For example, in Tennessee, almost 60 percent of the TANF child-only caseload included children living with nonparent caregivers, compared with about 30 percent in Texas.

    Most nonparent caregivers in TANF child-only cases are unmarried women who are over 50 years old, and research suggests that they often have low incomes and health problems. The children tend to be related to their caregiver, who is often a grandparent, and they remain on assistance for at least 2 years. Some of these children live with nonparent caregivers as a result of parental abuse or neglect, substance abuse, incarceration, or mental illness, but these circumstances may or may not be known by the child welfare agency.

    The level of benefits and services available to children living with nonparents depends on the extent to which a child welfare agency becomes involved in the family's situation and the licensing status of the caregiver. Children in foster care with licensed foster parents are generally eligible for greater benefits and services than children in other living arrangements, who may receive TANF child-only assistance. For one child, the national average minimum monthly foster care payment is $511 while the average TANF child-only payment is $249. Most children live with relatives who do not receive foster care payments because they are not licensed foster parents or they are in informal arrangements without child welfare involvement. Other factors influencing the assistance made available to children in a relative's care include available federal funding, state budget constraints, and increased state efforts to identify relative caregivers to prevent children from being placed in the foster care system.

    Several state and local efforts are under way to coordinate TANF and child welfare services to better serve children living with relative caregivers, but information sharing is a challenge. Coordination efforts include colocating TANF and child welfare services and having staff from each agency work together to help relative caregivers access services. ACF currently provides grants to states and tribes to support collaboration between TANF and child welfare programs and plans to disseminate the findings. However, information and data sharing between the two programs does not occur consistently, which can hinder relatives' access to available benefits. For example, although HHS provides funding, guidance, and technical assistance to promote data sharing between TANF and child welfare programs, more than half of states reported obstacles to sharing data, such as privacy concerns. GAO recommends the Secretary of HHS direct ACF to provide more guidance on data sharing opportunities. HHS agreed with GAO's recommendation.

    (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Johnson-Staub, Christine
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    This guide aims to help states look beyond the major sources of child care and early education funding and consider alternative federal financing sources to bring comprehensive services into early childhood settings. Why? Because the sources of child care funding historically available to states have limited supply and allowable uses, and comprehensive services are critical to the success of children – especially those who are most at risk for developmental challenges and delays. The information in this guide can help states go beyond Head Start and Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds to build on early childhood systems and improve access to services for children. Partnerships expanding access to comprehensive services in child care and early education settings can take different forms. They can build program staff’s capacity to directly provide services to children, or they can bring other professionals (e.g. mental health consultants, nurses, etc.) and resources into early childhood settings to collaborate with child care and early education staff. In this...

    This guide aims to help states look beyond the major sources of child care and early education funding and consider alternative federal financing sources to bring comprehensive services into early childhood settings. Why? Because the sources of child care funding historically available to states have limited supply and allowable uses, and comprehensive services are critical to the success of children – especially those who are most at risk for developmental challenges and delays. The information in this guide can help states go beyond Head Start and Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds to build on early childhood systems and improve access to services for children. Partnerships expanding access to comprehensive services in child care and early education settings can take different forms. They can build program staff’s capacity to directly provide services to children, or they can bring other professionals (e.g. mental health consultants, nurses, etc.) and resources into early childhood settings to collaborate with child care and early education staff. In this guide, we explore partnerships using federal funding streams to provide comprehensive services to children in early childhood settings. These partnerships may be administered directly by child care and early education agencies or by partner agencies with authority over the funds.  (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Whitley, Sarah
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2013

    Poverty and hunger are increasingly significant issues facing the United States. An additional trend, the consolidation in food retail, also contributes to food insecurity. This qualitative study of rural food insecure households investigates how assistance services and retail consolidation affect hunger for households in a changing rural environment. The data shows disparities exist in the amount of food assistance available based on household levels of social integration and social capital, leaving less connected residents experiencing hunger. (author abstract)

    Poverty and hunger are increasingly significant issues facing the United States. An additional trend, the consolidation in food retail, also contributes to food insecurity. This qualitative study of rural food insecure households investigates how assistance services and retail consolidation affect hunger for households in a changing rural environment. The data shows disparities exist in the amount of food assistance available based on household levels of social integration and social capital, leaving less connected residents experiencing hunger. (author abstract)

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