Welfare has changed dramatically since Temporary Assistance for Needy Families replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children in 1996. TANF can be characterized by shrinking real benefits, strategies that divert families from enrolling, and sanctions that penalize families. Data show high rates of employment barriers among adults on TANF, and a large share of TANF cases provide benefits only for the children. While evidence is scarce on strategies that move families to self-sufficiency. TANF can draw lessons from 15 years of research to improve program design.
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