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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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The SSRC Library includes resources which may be available only via journal subscription. The SSRC may be able to provide users without subscription access to a particular journal with a single use copy of the full text.  Please email the SSRC with your request.

The SSRC Library collection is constantly growing and new research is added regularly. We welcome our users to submit a library item to help us grow our collection in response to your needs.


  • Individual Author: Jones-DeWeever, Avis A.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2006

    Established within a political context greatly influenced by stereotypical assumptions of impoverished women of color, welfare reform codified a work-first philosophy meant to attack perceived “dependency” and spur “self-sufficiency.” This article describes the shortcomings of the work-first approach and highlights the importance of higher education for helping women, and especially women of color, achieve economic well-being. It then reports key findings from a study that examines the impact of higher education on the lives of welfare participants in California. Utilizing a mix of surveys, focus groups, and personal interviews, this study finds that despite the challenges associated with balancing parenthood, college-level coursework, and the bureaucratic demands of welfare reform, the stereotypical notions of the “welfare queen” do not apply. Instead, study participants exhibited a high level of ambition, persistence, determination, and hard work in pursuit of their educational ambitions; and in the process, improved their lives and the lives of their children. (Author abstract...

    Established within a political context greatly influenced by stereotypical assumptions of impoverished women of color, welfare reform codified a work-first philosophy meant to attack perceived “dependency” and spur “self-sufficiency.” This article describes the shortcomings of the work-first approach and highlights the importance of higher education for helping women, and especially women of color, achieve economic well-being. It then reports key findings from a study that examines the impact of higher education on the lives of welfare participants in California. Utilizing a mix of surveys, focus groups, and personal interviews, this study finds that despite the challenges associated with balancing parenthood, college-level coursework, and the bureaucratic demands of welfare reform, the stereotypical notions of the “welfare queen” do not apply. Instead, study participants exhibited a high level of ambition, persistence, determination, and hard work in pursuit of their educational ambitions; and in the process, improved their lives and the lives of their children. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Kahn, Peggy
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2001

    This article explores how work-first policy-as embodied in the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, Michigan's state TANF plan, and the routines and processes of Michigan's implementing agencies-affects the ability of low-income single mothers to pursue post-secondary education. Drawing upon a small-scale, qualitative, client-centered research project and an ongoing advocacy project, it argues that restrictive formal welfare education policy in Michigan is narrowed further by front-line agency workers in both the Family Independence Agency and the Work First program, as agency staff reproduce rigid work-first messages, reproduce organizational cultures of suspicion towards clients, marginalize education and training provisions to simplify their workloads, respond to contracting imperatives, and improvise within deregulated administrative structures. Struggling to balance mandatory work requirements, education, and child care responsibilities in face of policy and implementation obstacles, some student mothers tenaciously but tenuously persist,...

    This article explores how work-first policy-as embodied in the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, Michigan's state TANF plan, and the routines and processes of Michigan's implementing agencies-affects the ability of low-income single mothers to pursue post-secondary education. Drawing upon a small-scale, qualitative, client-centered research project and an ongoing advocacy project, it argues that restrictive formal welfare education policy in Michigan is narrowed further by front-line agency workers in both the Family Independence Agency and the Work First program, as agency staff reproduce rigid work-first messages, reproduce organizational cultures of suspicion towards clients, marginalize education and training provisions to simplify their workloads, respond to contracting imperatives, and improvise within deregulated administrative structures. Struggling to balance mandatory work requirements, education, and child care responsibilities in face of policy and implementation obstacles, some student mothers tenaciously but tenuously persist, while others withdraw, and many do not initiate the post-secondary education to which they aspire. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Katz, Sheila
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2013

    Sweeping changes in 1996 to the U.S. national welfare system prioritized “work-first” policies while restricting educational opportunities for mothers on welfare. Based on qualitative longitudinal interviews and focus groups with 64 women participating in California's welfare reform program, CalWORKs, this research focuses on the narratives of single mothers on welfare pursuing higher education after the “end of welfare as we know it” by constructing “survival narratives.” Their “survival narratives” reveal the costs of pursuing higher education while on welfare, how they construct strategies that help them persevere through school, and critically assess the failures of welfare reform (Author Abstract).

    Sweeping changes in 1996 to the U.S. national welfare system prioritized “work-first” policies while restricting educational opportunities for mothers on welfare. Based on qualitative longitudinal interviews and focus groups with 64 women participating in California's welfare reform program, CalWORKs, this research focuses on the narratives of single mothers on welfare pursuing higher education after the “end of welfare as we know it” by constructing “survival narratives.” Their “survival narratives” reveal the costs of pursuing higher education while on welfare, how they construct strategies that help them persevere through school, and critically assess the failures of welfare reform (Author Abstract).

  • Individual Author: Coffield, C. Ditmar
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2002

    This article interrogates welfare reform policies that restrict welfare reliant mothers' access to education and training. It focuses on how these policies have been implemented through the Indiana Manpower Placement and Comprehensive Training Program (IMPACT), Indiana's work first response to women's growing experience of poverty. Using methods of inquiry inspired by Dorothy E. Smith's articulation of institutional ethnography, a case study is developed to investigate the critical disjuncture that arises when welfare reliant mothers attempt to navigate these policies in the context of Indiana's extended political economy. It is argued that through these restrictive policies, welfare reliant mothers are forced into Indiana's unrelenting low-wage labor market, increasing the pervasiveness of poverty and further perpetuating the reproduction of inequality. (author abstract)

    This article interrogates welfare reform policies that restrict welfare reliant mothers' access to education and training. It focuses on how these policies have been implemented through the Indiana Manpower Placement and Comprehensive Training Program (IMPACT), Indiana's work first response to women's growing experience of poverty. Using methods of inquiry inspired by Dorothy E. Smith's articulation of institutional ethnography, a case study is developed to investigate the critical disjuncture that arises when welfare reliant mothers attempt to navigate these policies in the context of Indiana's extended political economy. It is argued that through these restrictive policies, welfare reliant mothers are forced into Indiana's unrelenting low-wage labor market, increasing the pervasiveness of poverty and further perpetuating the reproduction of inequality. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Lower-Basch, Elizabeth
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2007

    The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant is one of the major sources; of funding for services designed to help low-income parents succeed in the workplace. The TANF law limits the degree to which states can count TANF families engaged in education and training activities toward federal work participation rate requirements—an unfortunate limitation, given the strong link between educational attainment and earnings. The authors recommend that Congress remove these arbitrary limits and allow vocational educational training to count for at least 24 months, along with allowing adult education and English language services to count for at least six months, so that students can transition into training. (author abstract)

    The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant is one of the major sources; of funding for services designed to help low-income parents succeed in the workplace. The TANF law limits the degree to which states can count TANF families engaged in education and training activities toward federal work participation rate requirements—an unfortunate limitation, given the strong link between educational attainment and earnings. The authors recommend that Congress remove these arbitrary limits and allow vocational educational training to count for at least 24 months, along with allowing adult education and English language services to count for at least six months, so that students can transition into training. (author abstract)