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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: Danielson, Caroline; Reed, Deborah
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2009

    California's welfare program - the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program - provides cash assistance to needy families while helping them gain self-sufficiency. Toward this end, most adults receiving CalWORKs are required to work; they may also (with some restrictions) combine work with education or training. If they do not work or do not seek employment and lack a valid exemption, CalWORKs adults risk losing a portion of their welfare grants.

    Federal rules require the state to have close to half of all adults on welfare working at least part-time, or engaged in a limited set of activities intended to lead to employment. Failure to meet this standard (the so-called "work participation rate") can result in substantial fiscal penalties for the state. The most recent official statistics indicate that only about one-fifth (22.2%) of CalWORKs families required to comply with the federal standard actually did in 2006.

    In his 2007, 2008, and 2009 budget proposals, Governor Schwarzenegger suggested major changes to the sanction and time-...

    California's welfare program - the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program - provides cash assistance to needy families while helping them gain self-sufficiency. Toward this end, most adults receiving CalWORKs are required to work; they may also (with some restrictions) combine work with education or training. If they do not work or do not seek employment and lack a valid exemption, CalWORKs adults risk losing a portion of their welfare grants.

    Federal rules require the state to have close to half of all adults on welfare working at least part-time, or engaged in a limited set of activities intended to lead to employment. Failure to meet this standard (the so-called "work participation rate") can result in substantial fiscal penalties for the state. The most recent official statistics indicate that only about one-fifth (22.2%) of CalWORKs families required to comply with the federal standard actually did in 2006.

    In his 2007, 2008, and 2009 budget proposals, Governor Schwarzenegger suggested major changes to the sanction and time-limit policies in the CalWORKs program, seeking to boost the share of welfare adults who are working. Current state law allows cash assistance to continue to children whose parents have been removed from aid ("sanctioned") for failing to meet work requirements. Similarly, current law limits adults to a maximum of 60 months of cash assistance, but their children's eligibility is not time limited.  The governor's proposals entailed eventually eliminating benefits to the entire family if parents are not working sufficient hours. To-date, the governor's sanction and time-limit proposals have not been included in an enacted budget.

    This report examines the likely effects that increasing the severity of sanction and time-limit policies would have on the welfare caseload, the state's work participation rate, and the economic circumstances of vulnerable families. (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: Minkler, Meredith; Duerr Berrick, Jill; Needell, Barbara
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 1999

    Debate over the potential impacts of welfare reform largely has ignored the implications of these changes for the growing number of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Results of a qualitative study involving 36 key informants who were intimately involved in the crafting and/or implementation of California's welfare reform plan are presented. Particular attention is focused on time limits on aid, work requirements, and sanctions regarding teenage parenthood as these may impact on grandparent caregivers and their families. Cross-cutting themes also are presented. A case is made for greatly stepping up data collection and evaluative research that may help in determining the actual impacts of the legislation on intergenerational households headed by grandparents.(author abstract)

    This resource was previously published as a working paper by the Public Policy Institute of California.

    Debate over the potential impacts of welfare reform largely has ignored the implications of these changes for the growing number of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Results of a qualitative study involving 36 key informants who were intimately involved in the crafting and/or implementation of California's welfare reform plan are presented. Particular attention is focused on time limits on aid, work requirements, and sanctions regarding teenage parenthood as these may impact on grandparent caregivers and their families. Cross-cutting themes also are presented. A case is made for greatly stepping up data collection and evaluative research that may help in determining the actual impacts of the legislation on intergenerational households headed by grandparents.(author abstract)

    This resource was previously published as a working paper by the Public Policy Institute of California.

  • Individual Author: Kauff, Jacqueline; Derr, Michelle K. ; Pavetti, LaDonna; Martin, Emily S.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2007

    The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) provided a block grant to states to create the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.  In doing so, it required states to engage certain minimum percentages of their TANF caseloads—50 percent of all families and 90 percent of two-parent families—in specified work and work-related activities for a specified number of hours per week.  Sanctions, or financial penalties for noncompliance with program requirements, have long been perceived as a major tool for encouraging TANF recipients who might not be inclined to participate in work activities to do so.  The logic behind sanctions is that adverse consequences—such as a reduction in the TANF cash grant (a partial sanction) or gradual or immediate termination of the TANF grant (a full-family sanction)—can help influence the participation decisions that welfare recipients make.

    In reauthorizing the TANF program, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) changed the way the work participation rates are calculated and thereby...

    The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) provided a block grant to states to create the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.  In doing so, it required states to engage certain minimum percentages of their TANF caseloads—50 percent of all families and 90 percent of two-parent families—in specified work and work-related activities for a specified number of hours per week.  Sanctions, or financial penalties for noncompliance with program requirements, have long been perceived as a major tool for encouraging TANF recipients who might not be inclined to participate in work activities to do so.  The logic behind sanctions is that adverse consequences—such as a reduction in the TANF cash grant (a partial sanction) or gradual or immediate termination of the TANF grant (a full-family sanction)—can help influence the participation decisions that welfare recipients make.

    In reauthorizing the TANF program, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) changed the way the work participation rates are calculated and thereby effectively increased the rates required of states.  Work participation rates are calculated by dividing a numerator consisting of “participants”—families engaged in federally acceptable work activities for the requisite hours per week—by a denominator that is a count of “total families.”  Largely because states received credits in their participation rates for caseload reductions that occurred after 1995 and because the count of “total families” included only certain TANF recipients, the real rates that states had to meet prior to the DRA were substantially below 50 and 90 percent.  As of fiscal year 2007, states will receive credits in their participation rates for caseload reductions that occur after 2005 and the count of “total families” will include TANF recipients as well as families receiving assistance through separate state programs that count toward maintenance of effort (MOE) requirements.  Because of these changes, states now face the challenge of achieving participation rates that are considerably higher and close to the 50 and 90 percent standards set in the law.  As states consider their options for meeting the higher work participation rates, they are likely to consider how they might redefine their TANF and separate state programs and make better use of sanction policies and procedures to encourage higher levels of participation in program activities. (author abstract)

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