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Studies of Some Results of the 1996 Welfare Law Are Now Available Online

3/19/2001:   Since the repeal of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program in 1996 and the implementation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF) block grant program, questions have been raised.

How are children doing? When people leave assistance, are they working? Are they continuing to receive services such as food stamps and Medicaid? How are families who are "diverted" from ever qualifying for TANF doing?

Now, nearly four years since all 50 states have had TANF programs, several reports addressing these issues are available.

Reports from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Two-thirds of those who receive welfare are children. With the recent reforms in welfare programs, both positive and negative effects on children are likely to occur in areas of health, schooling, and socio-emotional/behavioral outcomes. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the Department of Health and
Human Services has funded a number of studies of the effects on welfare recipients, as well as effects on "leavers" and those diverted to other programs.

The website http://aspe.os.dhhs.gov/hsp/leavers99/index.htm provides access to background information, grantee reports, and links to other sites.

Sample topics include child well-being and outcomes, child care, health insurance, cross-state comparability, and reports on leavers and diversion. Studies cited include those conducted both before and after initiation of welfare reform.

Report on Illinois Programs from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Mathematica

Levels of public assistance received through the TANF program have declined dramatically in the past several years, but reductions in the use of food stamps have been even greater. The declines are so great as to raise concerns across the political spectrum. Concerns have increased as a result of initial surveys and information that indicated many people who are exiting or disqualified from food stamp programs may still need help meeting their basic nutritional needs.

A USDA-sponsored report by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Food Stamp Leavers in Illinois: How Are They Doing Two Years Later? is available at http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/PDFs/foodstampleave.pdf. Print copies can be requested by calling Mathematica Publications at 609/275-2350 or e-mail jallen@mathematica-mpr.com.

Initial findings in this report indicate that many adults and families are struggling with access to nutrition, health care, and other vital services, while many are not achieving the "self-sufficiency" envisioned by the policymakers who enacted food stamp changes in 1996.

Content contributed by Heather Banks, Editor

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