Who Returns to Welfare?

Brief

Who Returns to Welfare?

September 1, 2002

Abstract

According to data from the National Survey of America's Families, more than a fifth of families leaving welfare between 1997 and 1999 returned. Those who left welfare because they did not follow program rules were the most likely to return. But almost half of those who returned originally left welfare to work. Former recipients with little education, limited work experience, and poor health were particularly at risk of needing welfare again. Families using transitional support services such as child care, health insurance, and government help with expenses were less likely to return. The high rates of return suggest that many TANF leavers need greater help once they stop receiving benefits, including assistance that promotes job retention for those who leave welfare to work. [View press release]

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