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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: Wiedrich, Kasey; Griffin, Kate; Chilton, Mariana; Lehman, Gretchen
    Reference Type: Conference Paper
    Year: 2014

    Studies show that low-income families are more likely to be unbanked and “underbanked” than families with higher earnings. Lacking a bank account or depending on alternative financial services leads to significant financial barriers for low-income families that hinder economic growth and social mobility. This session will evaluate strategies that local and state human services agencies are testing to equip TANF recipients with the financial knowledge and resources they need to overcome barriers to financial security, including ACF’s Asset Initiative Partnership. Gretchen Lehman (Administration for Children and Families) will moderate this session.

    • Financial Counseling and Financial Access for the Financially Vulnerable

    Kasey Wiedrich (Corporation for Enterprise Development)

    The presentation examines financial management strategies among low-income families.  Two research studies are described: Children's HealthWatch and Witnesses to Hunger.

    • Building Economic Self-Sufficiency of TANF Clients Through Financial Education and Matched Savings

    ...

    Studies show that low-income families are more likely to be unbanked and “underbanked” than families with higher earnings. Lacking a bank account or depending on alternative financial services leads to significant financial barriers for low-income families that hinder economic growth and social mobility. This session will evaluate strategies that local and state human services agencies are testing to equip TANF recipients with the financial knowledge and resources they need to overcome barriers to financial security, including ACF’s Asset Initiative Partnership. Gretchen Lehman (Administration for Children and Families) will moderate this session.

    • Financial Counseling and Financial Access for the Financially Vulnerable

    Kasey Wiedrich (Corporation for Enterprise Development)

    The presentation examines financial management strategies among low-income families.  Two research studies are described: Children's HealthWatch and Witnesses to Hunger.

    • Building Economic Self-Sufficiency of TANF Clients Through Financial Education and Matched Savings

    Kate Griffin (Corporation for Enterprise Development)

    The presentation describes data from a financial education program for TANF recipients that provides training in budgeting and credit management.  The pilot was started in July 2013 with the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

    • Financial Management Strategies of TANF and SNAP Recipients: Lessons for Policy Makers and Administrators

    Mariana Chilton (Drexel University)

    The presentation describes a completed research project that looks at the impact of the AFCO financial counseling program for families leaving TANF and entering into a work-ready context.

    These presentations were given at the 2014 Welfare Research and Evaluation Conference (WREC).

  • 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: Taylor, Mary; Barusch, Amanda; Vogel, Mary
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2000

    The call came forth to “end welfare as we know it,” and so we have. This study of Utah’s long-term welfare families represents a commitment by the Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) to understand and document the situations of families as they reach the mandatory three-year lifetime limit for receipt of cash assistance. It also represents a snapshot of a historic time of change. This study reflects transitions at both societal and individual levels. At the societal level, the AFDC program that had been in place for over 60 years was replaced by a time-limited program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). The individual transitions documented here reflect this broader change. The long-term welfare recipients described were familiar with, and often dependent on, the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. Their experiences adjusting to TANF are in some ways unique to their cohort. Indeed, their difficulty understanding the reality of lifetime limits and related policies may not be experienced by their successors in the Family Employment Program (...

    The call came forth to “end welfare as we know it,” and so we have. This study of Utah’s long-term welfare families represents a commitment by the Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) to understand and document the situations of families as they reach the mandatory three-year lifetime limit for receipt of cash assistance. It also represents a snapshot of a historic time of change. This study reflects transitions at both societal and individual levels. At the societal level, the AFDC program that had been in place for over 60 years was replaced by a time-limited program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). The individual transitions documented here reflect this broader change. The long-term welfare recipients described were familiar with, and often dependent on, the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. Their experiences adjusting to TANF are in some ways unique to their cohort. Indeed, their difficulty understanding the reality of lifetime limits and related policies may not be experienced by their successors in the Family Employment Program (FEP). (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Derr, Michelle K.; Douglas, Sarah; Pavetti, LaDonna
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) shifted the emphasis of the welfare system from providing ongoing cash assistance to needy individuals to moving them into jobs. This shift created new expectations and opportunities for nearly all poor families seeking government assistance, including those facing multiple and significant barriers to employment. In the past, these hard-to-employ individuals were rarely required to meet work requirements, either by working or participating in an approved work activity. As a result, few states had specialized services to address barriers to employment. With the new emphasis on work, however, programs targeted to hard-to-employ welfare recipients have recently emerged in an effort to help these individuals find and keep a job.

    In this report, we profile the efforts of four states (Florida, Oregon, Tennessee, and Utah) to address the mental health conditions of welfare recipients, one of the many barriers that they may face. This report is based on the findings from a study that Mathematica...

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) shifted the emphasis of the welfare system from providing ongoing cash assistance to needy individuals to moving them into jobs. This shift created new expectations and opportunities for nearly all poor families seeking government assistance, including those facing multiple and significant barriers to employment. In the past, these hard-to-employ individuals were rarely required to meet work requirements, either by working or participating in an approved work activity. As a result, few states had specialized services to address barriers to employment. With the new emphasis on work, however, programs targeted to hard-to-employ welfare recipients have recently emerged in an effort to help these individuals find and keep a job.

    In this report, we profile the efforts of four states (Florida, Oregon, Tennessee, and Utah) to address the mental health conditions of welfare recipients, one of the many barriers that they may face. This report is based on the findings from a study that Mathematica Policy Research (MPR) conducted for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. This study was designed with three purposes in mind: (1) to identify and provide detailed information about the design and structure of mental health services developed by state and local welfare offices to address the mental health needs of welfare recipients, (2) to highlight options for delivering these services, and (3) to discuss the key implementation challenges involved in and the lessons learned from providing mental health services to welfare recipients.(author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Kauff, Jacqueline; Derr, Michelle K.; Pavetti, LaDonna
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2004

    This dramatic policy change has drawn attention to the need to engage recipients in activities that build their capacity to work. In fact, PRWORA requires states to engage a certain minimum percentage of their caseload in specified work and work-related activities for a specified number of hours per week. The required rate in most states has been relatively low to date, however, because the minimum rate is reduced by one percentage point for each percentage point that a state's average monthly caseload drops below its average monthly caseload for fiscal year 1995 (and the drop is not a result of eligibility or other policy changes). Thus, most states have not been terribly restricted by the federal legislation. While the percentage of TANF cases meeting the participation requirement nationwide is relatively low (33 percent in fiscal year 2002), states are likely engaging a larger share of cases either in activities other than those specified in the legislation or in the specified activities but for fewer hours than required by the federal law. The goal of engaging all or nearly...

    This dramatic policy change has drawn attention to the need to engage recipients in activities that build their capacity to work. In fact, PRWORA requires states to engage a certain minimum percentage of their caseload in specified work and work-related activities for a specified number of hours per week. The required rate in most states has been relatively low to date, however, because the minimum rate is reduced by one percentage point for each percentage point that a state's average monthly caseload drops below its average monthly caseload for fiscal year 1995 (and the drop is not a result of eligibility or other policy changes). Thus, most states have not been terribly restricted by the federal legislation. While the percentage of TANF cases meeting the participation requirement nationwide is relatively low (33 percent in fiscal year 2002), states are likely engaging a larger share of cases either in activities other than those specified in the legislation or in the specified activities but for fewer hours than required by the federal law. The goal of engaging all or nearly all TANF recipients in work and work-related activities is even explicit in some state and local programs.

    Information on the strategies state and local programs use to engage all or most TANF recipients in work activities is important because it could help other programs that have the same goal in mind. Yet, we know little about which programs currently strive toward this goal or the strategies they use to do so. To learn more, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contracted with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR) to conduct the Study of Work Participation and Full Engagement Strategies, an examination of seven state and local programs that attempt to engage all or nearly all TANF recipients (excluding recipients in child-only cases) in work and work-related activities. This report presents the study findings, which are especially timely, as the proposed reauthorization of the TANF legislation will likely require states to engage a greater percentage of their caseload in work activities.

    The Study of Work Participation and Full Engagement Strategies had three broad objectives: to identify state and local programs that intend to engage all or nearly all TANF recipients (excluding those in child-only cases) in work or work-related activities, to examine how these programs operate, and to identify ways in which other programs might engage a larger share of their caseload in work or work-related activities. More specifically, the study sought to answer the following research questions:

    • Which state and local programs currently strive to engage all or nearly all TANF recipients in work or work-related activities?
    • What program services and administrative procedures do state and local programs use to engage all or nearly all TANF recipients in work or work-related activities?
    • To what extent are programs that attempt to engage all or nearly all TANF recipients succeeding, and how do levels of engagement in these programs compare to program participation rates as defined by the federal TANF legislation?

    (author abstract)

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