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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 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: Fording, Richard C.; Soss, Joe; Schram, Sanford F.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2011

    To illuminate how race affects the usage of punitive tools in policy implementation settings, we analyze sanctions imposed for noncompliant client behavior under welfare reform. Drawing on a model of racial classification and policy choice, we test four hypotheses regarding client race, local context, and sanctioning. Based on longitudinal and cross-sectional multilevel analyses of individual-level administrative data, we find that race plays a significant role in shaping sanction implementation. Its effects, however, are highly contingent on client characteristics, local political contexts, and the degree to which state governments devolve policy control to local officials. (Author abstract)

    To illuminate how race affects the usage of punitive tools in policy implementation settings, we analyze sanctions imposed for noncompliant client behavior under welfare reform. Drawing on a model of racial classification and policy choice, we test four hypotheses regarding client race, local context, and sanctioning. Based on longitudinal and cross-sectional multilevel analyses of individual-level administrative data, we find that race plays a significant role in shaping sanction implementation. Its effects, however, are highly contingent on client characteristics, local political contexts, and the degree to which state governments devolve policy control to local officials. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Casey, Timothy
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    A new report by Legal Momentum, demonstrates the serious harm financial sanctions cause Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients. Legal Momentum's report shows that these sanctions are very common and that many are imposed erroneously or for extremely minor violations, such as missing an appointment or failing to file a document. These penalties cause real hardship: sanctioned TANF families often report maternal or child hunger, eviction or homelessness, and lack of medical care.

    Though sanctions have contributed to a sharp decline in TANF participation by eligible families, federal TANF policy continues to incentivize states to impose them.   

    Congress must reform the TANF sanction system when it considers the program for reauthorization. (author abstract)

    A new report by Legal Momentum, demonstrates the serious harm financial sanctions cause Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients. Legal Momentum's report shows that these sanctions are very common and that many are imposed erroneously or for extremely minor violations, such as missing an appointment or failing to file a document. These penalties cause real hardship: sanctioned TANF families often report maternal or child hunger, eviction or homelessness, and lack of medical care.

    Though sanctions have contributed to a sharp decline in TANF participation by eligible families, federal TANF policy continues to incentivize states to impose them.   

    Congress must reform the TANF sanction system when it considers the program for reauthorization. (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)

  • 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)

  • Individual Author: Greenberg, Mark
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2006

    The budget conference agreement includes a mandate that states meet a 50 percent Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) work participation rate in order to avoid federal penalties. The bill forces states to make an unpalatable choice: increase work participation rates by an estimated 69 percent or cut the number of families receiving assistance—or both. What’s more, the bill provides states with new funds that amount to less than $70 per new participant per month. (author abstract)

    The budget conference agreement includes a mandate that states meet a 50 percent Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) work participation rate in order to avoid federal penalties. The bill forces states to make an unpalatable choice: increase work participation rates by an estimated 69 percent or cut the number of families receiving assistance—or both. What’s more, the bill provides states with new funds that amount to less than $70 per new participant per month. (author abstract)

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