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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: Hahn, Heather
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2019

    Work-related requirements—such as employment, job search, job training, or community engagement activities—are currently a condition of eligibility for some safety net programs. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), housing assistance and Medicaid each include work-related requirements in some states or localities for some beneficiaries. Recent proposals would expand or introduce new work requirements in these and other safety net programs, which offer vital supports for families to meet their basic needs.

    For parents, meeting work requirements to gain or maintain eligibility for safety net programs and access to vital supports is not as straightforward as simply engaging in the required work activities. Parents must not only understand what the requirements are, but be able to access the necessary training and supports to meet the requirements and document their compliance. If they qualify for an exemption, they must learn how to document this as well. Agencies administering safety net programs must be able...

    Work-related requirements—such as employment, job search, job training, or community engagement activities—are currently a condition of eligibility for some safety net programs. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), housing assistance and Medicaid each include work-related requirements in some states or localities for some beneficiaries. Recent proposals would expand or introduce new work requirements in these and other safety net programs, which offer vital supports for families to meet their basic needs.

    For parents, meeting work requirements to gain or maintain eligibility for safety net programs and access to vital supports is not as straightforward as simply engaging in the required work activities. Parents must not only understand what the requirements are, but be able to access the necessary training and supports to meet the requirements and document their compliance. If they qualify for an exemption, they must learn how to document this as well. Agencies administering safety net programs must be able to efficiently process each case.

    This report illustrates and explores the complex pathways parents who are subject to work requirements must navigate to maintain their access to the safety net. Some pathways may lead families to maintain their access to benefits, while others could lead them to lose access to benefits for which they are still eligible. (Edited author abstract)

     

  • Individual Author: Karpman, Michael; Hahn, Heather; Gangopadhyaya, Anuj
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2019

    Since 2017, policymakers have sought to establish or expand work requirements for participants in federal safety net programs. These policies generally require non-disabled adults to work or participate in work-related activities for a minimum number of hours per week or month to continue receiving benefits. Program participants must navigate these requirements within a low-wage job market in which just-in-time scheduling practices have resulted in unstable and unpredictable work hours for many employees.

    Using data from the December 2018 Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey, we examined the prevalence of precarious work schedules among working adults whose families participate in federal safety net programs in the past year, focusing on four key areas: nonstandard work shift schedules, fluctuation in weekly hours worked, advance notice of work schedules, and control over work schedules. We find that safety net program participants’ work schedules are structured in ways that would place these workers at risk of transitioning in and out of compliance with...

    Since 2017, policymakers have sought to establish or expand work requirements for participants in federal safety net programs. These policies generally require non-disabled adults to work or participate in work-related activities for a minimum number of hours per week or month to continue receiving benefits. Program participants must navigate these requirements within a low-wage job market in which just-in-time scheduling practices have resulted in unstable and unpredictable work hours for many employees.

    Using data from the December 2018 Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey, we examined the prevalence of precarious work schedules among working adults whose families participate in federal safety net programs in the past year, focusing on four key areas: nonstandard work shift schedules, fluctuation in weekly hours worked, advance notice of work schedules, and control over work schedules. We find that safety net program participants’ work schedules are structured in ways that would place these workers at risk of transitioning in and out of compliance with work requirements week to week for reasons beyond their control. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Kendall, Jessica R.
    Reference Type: SSRC Products
    Year: 2018

    Posted by Jessica R. Kendall, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    Core features of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) promoted work and job preparation among Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash recipients. Welfare reform was influenced by a sizeable volume of research on welfare-to-work programs taking place at the time. Since PRWORA’s passage, newer—albeit fewer—studies have assessed more recent welfare-to-work efforts.

    What have these studies found and what have we learned from them?  

    In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a surge of legislatively supported random assignment evaluations to test the effectiveness of mandatory welfare programs...

    Posted by Jessica R. Kendall, Self-Sufficiency Research Clearinghouse Staff

    Core features of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) promoted work and job preparation among Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash recipients. Welfare reform was influenced by a sizeable volume of research on welfare-to-work programs taking place at the time. Since PRWORA’s passage, newer—albeit fewer—studies have assessed more recent welfare-to-work efforts.

    What have these studies found and what have we learned from them?  

    In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a surge of legislatively supported random assignment evaluations to test the effectiveness of mandatory welfare programs that offered employment services, education and training, or both. During this period federal law authorized one of the largest welfare-to-work evaluations to-date, the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS). This multi-year study assessed initiatives in 11 different welfare-to-work programs across the country. Primary strategies evaluated offered pre-employment short-term job assistance and rapid job placement or longer-term skilling building opportunities. All programs studied increased employment and earnings and decreased welfare receipt. But no program made families materially better off—neither increasing income nor reducing poverty.

    Around the same time, many states conducted their own random assignment evaluations under waiver provisions of the federal Social Security Act. A range of program strategies were tested in these studies—from mandatory work requirements to earning supplements and time limits. Each included an impact analysis of program effects and many became the basis for states’ TANF programs. One such study—of Minnesota’s Family Investment Program—evaluated strategies that offered financial incentives, which included allowing participants to keep more of their cash assistance when they went to work compared with other welfare participants. It also included paying child care expenses directly to providers, combined welfare, family general assistance, and food stamps, and required participation in a week-long job skills class, followed by seven weeks of supervised job search and group activities. Compared with the control group, the Family Investment Program’s relatively intensive supports increased employment and earning in the months following program entry and participants more quickly found jobs. The study also found positive impact on child well-being—noting that children exhibited fewer behavioral problems, did better in school, were more likely to be in a child care setting, and were more likely to have continuous health care coverage.

    Overall, earlier welfare-to-work studies showed positive, but small impacts on employment and welfare receipt—common program features that may be related to these results included job search supports, time limits, and financial incentives. 

    Following welfare reform, the federal government continued to fund experimental studies examining approaches to improve the impacts of welfare-to-work programs. Many of these studies showed limited or mixed results. The Employment Retention and Advancement Project (ERA), 1998-2011 evaluated strategies to promote employment retention and advancement among welfare participants and low-wage workers. It assessed 16 approaches in eight states. It found that earning supplements combined with employment services may have positive earnings results, but did not find positive results for programs that combined work and education. The Enhanced Services for the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation, 2001-2012 assessed the effectiveness of programs designed to enhance employment outcomes for current or former TANF participants and other low-income parents who have demonstrated difficulty entering and sustaining employment. It assessed four sites, each targeting different populations—from TANF recipients to ex-offenders, and Medicaid recipients. The studies had mixed results—subsidized transitional jobs did not show long-term impacts on employment or earnings; one program focused on TANF recipients with disabilities showed some positive earning impacts.

    Today, ongoing studies continue to test what works in welfare-to-work programming. Several focus on career laddering initiatives that seek to move participants into better paying jobs and sustained self-sufficiency. Some assess the intersection and coordination between different, but overlapping human service systems. Still others are testing enhanced case management and supportive interventions to build participant capacity and promote job retention. Few, however, have focused on various sub-populations of TANF participants, including those with specific barriers or children. Few early studies also included implementation analyses to more fully discern how various program features were executed and why. While there continue to be gaps in our understanding of welfare-to-work initiatives, larger policy and research questions have also arisen. Some suggest that a broader focus on TANF evaluation is in order. With only a small portion of today’s TANF funds being used for cash assistance programs—what are the impacts TANF funds have in supporting other programs that serve needy families and children?   

    Learn more about welfare-to-work from the SSRC:

    The SSRC Library contains numerous reports and stakeholder resources about welfare-to-work, including:

    For more resources, check out the SSRC Library and subscribe to SSRC or follow us on Twitter to receive updates about upcoming events, new library materials on self-sufficiency topics of interest to you and more. 

  • Individual Author: Neumark, David
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    Poverty remains a persistent problem in many areas in the United States. Existing place-based policies—especially enterprise zones—have generally failed to provide benefits to the least advantaged. Drawing on lessons from the often-negative findings on effects of past place-based policies, but preserving the potential advantage of policies that try to improve economic outcomes in specific areas, I propose a new place-based policy—Rebuilding Communities Job Subsidies, or RCJS—to encourage job and income growth in areas of economic disadvantage. RCJS targets neighborhoods classified as extremely poor, and low-income workers in those neighborhoods, with a period of fully subsidized jobs to build skills and improve and revitalize areas of extreme poverty, to be followed by partially subsidized private sector jobs. (Author abstract). 

    Poverty remains a persistent problem in many areas in the United States. Existing place-based policies—especially enterprise zones—have generally failed to provide benefits to the least advantaged. Drawing on lessons from the often-negative findings on effects of past place-based policies, but preserving the potential advantage of policies that try to improve economic outcomes in specific areas, I propose a new place-based policy—Rebuilding Communities Job Subsidies, or RCJS—to encourage job and income growth in areas of economic disadvantage. RCJS targets neighborhoods classified as extremely poor, and low-income workers in those neighborhoods, with a period of fully subsidized jobs to build skills and improve and revitalize areas of extreme poverty, to be followed by partially subsidized private sector jobs. (Author abstract). 

  • Individual Author: Kautz, Tim; Moore, Quinn
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    This report discusses issues related to measuring self-regulation skills in evaluations of employment programs for low-income populations.1 First, it presents an overview of self-regulation skills and their importance for employment programs. Second, it introduces approaches to measuring self-regulation skills. Third, it discusses challenges when measuring self-regulation skills in evaluations of employment programs for low-income populations. Fourth, it provides criteria and recommendations for selecting measures. (Edited author overview)

    This report discusses issues related to measuring self-regulation skills in evaluations of employment programs for low-income populations.1 First, it presents an overview of self-regulation skills and their importance for employment programs. Second, it introduces approaches to measuring self-regulation skills. Third, it discusses challenges when measuring self-regulation skills in evaluations of employment programs for low-income populations. Fourth, it provides criteria and recommendations for selecting measures. (Edited author overview)

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