Congress reauthorized TANF in February 2006 as part of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. The changes included under reauthorization will require most states to greatly increase work participation among their caseloads in order to avoid financial penalties and could cause many states to rethink their current welfare policies overall. This marks a good time to review states' current rules, which provides a benchmark against which future changes can be assessed. This brief reviews the multiple ways a family can get on welfare, stay on, and leave (or lose) assistance. It uses the Urban Institute's Welfare Rules Database (WRD) to examine the variation in key policies as of 2003.
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