Low-income individuals who are not employed or receiving TANF are often referred to as “disconnected.” This study uses interview data from a sample of 51 disconnected, unmarried mothers from Southeast Michigan and Los Angeles, California to learn about their experiences related to work and benefit receipt. In Michigan, many women had hit the TANF time limit but could not find employment. In Los Angeles, some women preferred to stay home to care for young children, but others lacked child care and work experience. Immigrant mothers struggled without working papers. Despite receiving assistance from different sources, material hardship was quite common.
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