Improving Program Engagement of TANF Families: Understanding Participation and Those with Reported Zero Hours of Participation in Work Activities

Improving Program Engagement of TANF Families: Understanding Participation and Those with Reported Zero Hours of Participation in Work Activities

OPRE Report 2015-06
Published: Jan 19, 2015
Publisher: Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
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Authors

Michelle K. Derr

Key Findings

Key Findings:

  • The reasons for reported zero hours of participation are complex and difficult to quantify.
  • Many TANF families are engaged in work activities but are not counted because of state reporting practices or difficulties with documenting client participation.
  • Limited state fiscal and staff resources have made it difficult to re-engage those not participating.
  • Because of resource constraints, states appear to focus on the families who, with a small investment, can get a job quickly rather than those who are hard to employ.

This study found that the reasons for reported zero hours of participation are complex and difficult to quantify. Still, findings suggest that many TANF families are engaged in work activities but are not counted because of state reporting practices or difficulties with documenting client participation. In addition, limited state fiscal and staff resources have made it difficult to re-engage those not participating. Finally, because of resource constraints, states appear to focus on the families who, with a small investment, can get a job quickly rather than those who are hard to employ.

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