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This study examines states' approaches to serving TANF recipients facing multiple barriers to work in fall 2006. It also describes changes states anticipate (partly in response to TANF reauthorization) in the near future to help these recipients move into work and off the caseload. Study results are based primarily on structured interviews with state TANF program officials in 17 states including the states with the largest TANF caseloads. The findings highlight the different approaches taken by state TANF programs on how to best help recipients with serious barriers and provide early information on states' thinking on how their approach may change for this group in the future.
A primary goal of state Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs is to move recipients into employment. Many state TANF programs have specific strategies to increase employment among parents with serious barriers to work, sometimes called the "hard to employ." This paper summarizes how states serve this population and recent changes in states’ approaches. Understanding how states’ TANF programs work with this population is particularly important as states consider possible changes to their welfare programs to meet the increased work requirements mandated by TANF’s reauthorization in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA).
This study summarizes states’ approaches to serving this population in fall 2006 and the changes states anticipate in the near future to help recipients move into work and off the caseload. The study is based on interviews with TANF program officials in 15 states, the District of Columbia, and New York City supplemented with relevant written materials, state policy information, and several local interviews. The states included are California, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.1
1In California, we also conducted interviews with Los Angeles and Alameda County administrators. In New York, our interviewing was only with New York City. Throughout this summary we refer to our sample as "17 states" for brevity.
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