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Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Policies and Their Effects

December 3, 2013 09:59 AM

By Senovia Guevara, University of Michigan

I attended the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Policies and Their Effects session on Thursday, November 7. Presenters included Richard Hendra, Melanie A. Skemer, and Elizabeth Laird. The first presentation was titled Can Post-Employment Services Combined with Financial Incentives Improve Employment Retention for Welfare Recipients? Evidence from the Texas Employment Retention and Advancement Evaluation. During Hendra’s presentation, he noted that the Texas Employment Retention and Advancement program was one of twelve post-employment intervention models in six states that was Health and Human Services/Administration for Children and Families funded. He further described the program, stating that the Texas site targeted unemployed TANF recipients and took place in three cities in the state. The program offered a monthly stipend of two-hundred dollars for full-time work and provided job coaching for working participants. Hendra also described an expanded EITC experiment in New York City that included single, childless adults that provided up to two-thousand dollars per year for those participants. In concluding, he noted that the general concept of wage supplementation takes on more importance in a future of so many low-wage jobs, but it was disappointing to see retention efforts fade in the long run.

Skemer presented her paper Examining the interaction between welfare and disability: lessons from an in-depth data analysis. The hypotheses included whether Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients were especially likely to apply for Supplemental Security Income because they are concerned about losing their TANF benefits. She found that those who applied from TANF to SSI were usually well within their 60-month time limit, which made the threat of losing benefits not a decisive factor.

The last presentation by Laird was State of the States: Serving welfare recipients in a post-recessionary fiscal and political environment. She began by stating that TANF is critical in the economic safety net for low-income families. The job market is very competitive for these recipients, with these people taking longer to secure employment. Laird described changes in the TANF program philosophy and noted examples of site states such as Utah, New York City and Texas. In the states reviewed, she described TANF funding and contract arrangements, noting that there had been a reduction in some states of the size of TANF grants and reduced contract amounts with service providers. Staff reductions were common, even though there was an increase in TANF caseloads.

There was an active Q&A session at the conclusion of the presentations and the panel was very adept at answering multiple audience questions. The panel provided a very interesting and informative session which was well-attended. As a student who is still learning about the real-world implications of policy programs, the session provided a lot of value to me.


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