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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: Butler, Sandra
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    In 2011 the Maine legislature established a 60-month lifetime limit on the length of time that poor families with children could receive help from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program. The time limit was implemented as of June 2012. During the next four and one-half months more than 1,500 families, including an estimated 2,700 children, lost this assistance.

    Sandra Butler, a professor of Social Work at the University of Maine with over twenty years of experience in research related to low-income Maine families, conducted a study of the impact of this time limit on the first wave of families to lose their TANF assistance. This work, which included both a survey and personal interviews with a sample of affected families, was commissioned by Maine Equal Justice Partners.

    The study found that families losing assistance face multiple barriers to work and experience severe hardships as a result of losing TANF assistance due to time limits. Further, the findings indicate a failure by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to properly...

    In 2011 the Maine legislature established a 60-month lifetime limit on the length of time that poor families with children could receive help from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program. The time limit was implemented as of June 2012. During the next four and one-half months more than 1,500 families, including an estimated 2,700 children, lost this assistance.

    Sandra Butler, a professor of Social Work at the University of Maine with over twenty years of experience in research related to low-income Maine families, conducted a study of the impact of this time limit on the first wave of families to lose their TANF assistance. This work, which included both a survey and personal interviews with a sample of affected families, was commissioned by Maine Equal Justice Partners.

    The study found that families losing assistance face multiple barriers to work and experience severe hardships as a result of losing TANF assistance due to time limits. Further, the findings indicate a failure by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to properly implement key statutory protections in a fair and uniform manner. This survey also raises important questions about the adequacy of services provided to families, particularly those with disabilities, through the ASPIRE program while they are receiving TANF. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Logan, Letitia; Saunders, Correne; Born, Catherine
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    One controversial feature of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, aka ‘welfare reform,’ was the unprecedented imposition, with few exceptions, of an across-the-board limit of five years (shorter at state option) on adults’ receipt of federally-funded cash assistance. However, because some recipient families have complex, difficult problems that are not easily or quickly resolved, PRWORA also included a ‘hardship exemption’ provision. This allows states to provide federally-funded aid beyond 60 months, but to no more than 20 percent of their caseloads. The 60-month time limit clock began to tick in Maryland in January 1997, and consequently, families began to exceed the limit in January 2002, the 61st month of the ticking clock. More than 10 years later, the clock still ticks. As each month passes, the number of families nearing the time limit and thus becoming potentially eligible for a hardship exemption ineluctably increases.

    Thus, it behooves states to continuously monitor where they are vis-à-vis the 20 percent cap and...

    One controversial feature of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, aka ‘welfare reform,’ was the unprecedented imposition, with few exceptions, of an across-the-board limit of five years (shorter at state option) on adults’ receipt of federally-funded cash assistance. However, because some recipient families have complex, difficult problems that are not easily or quickly resolved, PRWORA also included a ‘hardship exemption’ provision. This allows states to provide federally-funded aid beyond 60 months, but to no more than 20 percent of their caseloads. The 60-month time limit clock began to tick in Maryland in January 1997, and consequently, families began to exceed the limit in January 2002, the 61st month of the ticking clock. More than 10 years later, the clock still ticks. As each month passes, the number of families nearing the time limit and thus becoming potentially eligible for a hardship exemption ineluctably increases.

    Thus, it behooves states to continuously monitor where they are vis-à-vis the 20 percent cap and to have a solid understanding of their time-limited and hardship populations should the 20 percent cap be reached. If and when this happens, difficult rationing decisions would have to be made about which families would be exempted and which would not. Alternatively, state general funds would have to fill the gap, a gap that could get larger with each passing year. Neither scenario is appealing, but thankfully the most recent estimates are that Maryland is at least a few years away from reaching the 20 percent cap. Moreover, because of its commitment to data-driven decision-making, the Family Investment Administration of the Maryland Department of Human Resources and its research partner, the Family Welfare Group at the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work have tracked the time-limited population for many years and issued multiple reports on the subject.

    Today’s report adds to our available body of knowledge on this subject by looking at the universe of 7,143 Maryland cases which exceeded the 60-month limit on benefit receipt and were granted a hardship exemption (so that benefits did not cease) between January 2002 and August 2010. Specifically, we use administrative data to describe demographic and case characteristics and cash assistance utilization patterns of the hardship population, the extent of their participation in work activities, the nature of the activities to which they are assigned, and the barriers which are documented as being present in their lives. To determine if there have been any changes over time in the size, distribution or composition of the hardship caseload, we present findings by time period cohort: January 2002 through December 2005 (n=4,746); January 2006 through December 2009 (n=2,035); and January 2010 through August 2010 (n=362). (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Moreno, Manuel H.; Toros, Halil; Joshi, Vandana; Stevens, Max
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2004

    On January 1, 2003, the first group of welfare participants in the County of Los Angeles reached their five-year time limits on cash assistance received through the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program. The County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors was concerned about how CalWORKs participants and their families have fared after reaching time limits. As a result, on January 21, 2003, the Board adopted a motion instructing the Director of the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) to:

    • Collect data for a six-month period to determine how the time limits have affected employment, family structure, housing stability, supportive service needs, and income.
    • Select a sample of individuals who have not timed-out and collect the same data for comparison purposes.

    DPSS contracted with the Chief Administrative Office, Service Integration Branch-Research and Evaluation Services to carry out the evaluation. The present report encapsulates the research conducted to comply with the Board motion. (author introduction)...

    On January 1, 2003, the first group of welfare participants in the County of Los Angeles reached their five-year time limits on cash assistance received through the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program. The County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors was concerned about how CalWORKs participants and their families have fared after reaching time limits. As a result, on January 21, 2003, the Board adopted a motion instructing the Director of the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) to:

    • Collect data for a six-month period to determine how the time limits have affected employment, family structure, housing stability, supportive service needs, and income.
    • Select a sample of individuals who have not timed-out and collect the same data for comparison purposes.

    DPSS contracted with the Chief Administrative Office, Service Integration Branch-Research and Evaluation Services to carry out the evaluation. The present report encapsulates the research conducted to comply with the Board motion. (author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Herd, Dean; Lightman, Ernie; Mitchell, Andrew
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2007

    This paper examines time limits on the receipt of welfare, based on experiences in the United States and, since 2002, in British Columbia, the only province to have introduced time limits in Canada. In effect, time limits start a ‘clock’ running and when the time has expired, welfare recipients become subject to penalties, up to lifetime exclusion from welfare. The paper begins by describing the introduction of time limits in the US and Canada, detailing the often complex policies themselves. It then reviews the research evidence, drawing primarily on the US experience which has been more fully evaluated. Overall, the research shows that time limits are both philosophically flawed and a blunt and ineffective policy tool. Proponents of time limits advocate their use as part of a package of measures designed to change the behaviour of individuals and to reduce welfare “dependency”. Instead, the research shows that those who reach time limits face multiple barriers to employment. In practical terms, recognition of the human costs of time limits in both the US and British Columbia...

    This paper examines time limits on the receipt of welfare, based on experiences in the United States and, since 2002, in British Columbia, the only province to have introduced time limits in Canada. In effect, time limits start a ‘clock’ running and when the time has expired, welfare recipients become subject to penalties, up to lifetime exclusion from welfare. The paper begins by describing the introduction of time limits in the US and Canada, detailing the often complex policies themselves. It then reviews the research evidence, drawing primarily on the US experience which has been more fully evaluated. Overall, the research shows that time limits are both philosophically flawed and a blunt and ineffective policy tool. Proponents of time limits advocate their use as part of a package of measures designed to change the behaviour of individuals and to reduce welfare “dependency”. Instead, the research shows that those who reach time limits face multiple barriers to employment. In practical terms, recognition of the human costs of time limits in both the US and British Columbia has led to the development of broad exemptions and extensions. While this has negated many of the impacts of time limits, the powerful symbolism remains. The presence of time limits graphically highlights the transformed purpose and scope of welfare. As such, while the practical impact in British Columbia has been significantly reduced, time limits continue to cast an ominous shadow over those in need of assistance. (author abstract)

  • 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)

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