Description and Assessment of State Approaches to Diversion Programs and Activities Under Welfare Reform. D. Overview of States' Formal Efforts to Divert Families from TANF

08/01/1998

This section presents a general overview of the results of our inquiries into formal state diversion programs and activities. Subsequent chapters address these results in more detail.

As illustrated by Table I-1, 31 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia (4) from which we were able to gather information on diversion programs and activities have implemented at least one diversion activity in at least part of the state. Twenty states are operating lump sum payment programs with three additional states planning to implement such programs in 1998. Seventeen states are operating lump sum payment programs statewide, two states are operating them less than statewide and in one state, although the state law allows lump sum payment programs, counties have the discretion to decide whether or not to operate such a program.

TABLE I-1. DISTRIBUTION OF FORMAL STATE DIVERSION PROGRAMS (n=51)
State Lump Sum Alternative Resources15 Job Search
Alabama     ü
Alaska 1    
Arizona 2   ü
Arkansas ü   ü
California ü3   18
Colorado ü4    
Connecticut 5    
Delaware       
District of Columbia 6   18
Florida ü ü 18
Georgia     ü
Hawaii      
Idaho ü ü ü
Illinois      
Indiana     ü17
Iowa ü7   18
Kansas   16 ü
Kentucky ü   18
Louisiana         
Maine ü8   18
Maryland ü ü ü
Massachusetts         
Michigan       18
Minnesota ü      
Mississippi         
Missouri      ü
Montana ü ü 18
Nebraska      
Nevada 9   ü
New Hampshire      
New Jersey 10   10, 18
New Mexico      
New York   ü ü
North Carolina ü   19
North Dakota      
Ohio ü20   ü20
Oklahoma 11   ü
Oregon     ü
Pennsylvania      
Rhode Island 12    
South Carolina     ü
South Dakota ü   18
Tennessee      
Texas ü7 ü 18
Utah ü    
Vermont 13    
Virginia ü    
Washington ü    
West Virginia ü    
Wisconsin ü14 ü ü
Wyoming     18
Total 20 7 16

 

Seven states are using an aggressive approach to help potential TANF recipients identify alternative resources that may ameliorate their need for TANF benefits. Sixteen states require TANF applicants to engage in active job searches before their application for assistance is approved. In 15 of those 16 states, applicant job search is mandatory statewide while in the one remaining state the requirement has only been implemented in a few counties.(5)

As Table I-2 illustrates, most states that are operating diversion programs have implemented only one of the three formal diversion activities examined for in this study. In 12 states, lump sum payment programs are the only diversion activities in place while in 10 states, the only diversion activities in place are mandatory applicant job searches. There are no states in which the exploration of alternative resources is the only formal diversion activity. With respect to the states that have implemented just two of the three formal diversion activities, the states' choices are distributed fairly evenly among the three combinations: three states have lump sum payment programs and alternative resources; one state has alternative resources and mandatory applicant job search, and two states have lump sum payment program and mandatory applicant job search. Only three states, Idaho, Maryland, and Wisconsin have implemented all three formal diversion activities. In these states, all three diversion activities have been implemented statewide.

TABLE I-2. COMBINATIONS OF STATE DIVERSION ACTIVITIES (n=51)

No Diversion Activities (20 States)
Alaska 
Connecticut 
District of Columbia 
Delaware 
Hawaii 
Illinois 
Louisiana
Massachusetts 
Michigan 
Mississippi 
Nebraska 
New Hampshire 
New Jersey 
New Mexico
North Dakota 
Pennsylvania 
Rhode Island 
Tennessee 
Vermont 
Wyoming
Only One Diversion Activity (22 States)
Lump Sum 
California 
Colorado 
Iowa 
Kentucky 
Maine 
Minnesota 
North Carolina 
South Dakota 
Utah 
Virginia 
Washington 
West Virginia
Alternative Resources  Mandatory Applicant Job Search 
Alabama 
Arizona 
Georgia 
Indiana 
Kansas 
Missouri 
Nevada 
Oklahoma 
Oregon 
South Carolina
Only Two Diversion Activities (6 States)
Lump Sum and Alternative Resources 
Montana 
Texas 
Florida
Alternative Resources and Mandatory Applicant Job Search 
New York
Lump Sum and Mandatory Applicant Job Search 
Arkansas 
Ohio
Three Diversion Activities (3 States)
Idaho 
Maryland 
Wisconsin
   

Table I-3 suggests a few interesting regional patterns (6) in terms of which states have chosen to pursue which of the three formal diversion activities. The West Region has the greatest concentration of both lump sum payment and job search requirements with almost 60 percent and almost 40 percent of the states in this region respectively establishing these programs. The South Region shows a similar concentration of both lump sum payment and job search requirements with almost 60 percent and 40 percent of the states in this region respectively establishing these programs. By contrast, the Midwest Region shows less of a dichotomy between these two activities with almost 50 percent of the states in this region establishing lump sum payment programs and almost 50 percent establishing job search requirements. Finally, the Northeast Region shows the lowest concentration of lump sum payment and job search requirements with just 10 percent of the states in this region establishing either of these programs.

TABLE I-3. DISTRIBUTION OF FORMAL STATE DIVERSION PROGRAMS (n=48)1
BY REGION AND SUBREGION
State Lump Sum Alternative Resources14 Job Search
WEST REGION      
Mountain Subregion       
Arizona 2   ü
Colorado ü4    
Idaho ü ü ü
Montana ü ü 17
New Mexico      
Utah ü   17
Wyoming     17
Pacific Subregion      
California ü3   17
Nevada 8   ü
Oregon     ü
Washington ü    
MIDWEST REGION      
East North Central Subregion      
Illinois      
Indiana     ü16
Michigan     17
Ohio ü19   ü19
Wisconsin ü13 ü ü
West North Central Subregion      
Iowa ü6   17
Kansas   15 ü
Minnesota ü    
Missouri     ü
Nebraska      
North Dakota      
South Dakota ü   17
NORTHEAST REGION      
Middle Atlantic Subregion      
New Jersey 9   9, 17
New York   ü ü
Pennsylvania      
New England Subregion      
Connecticut 5    
Maine 7   17
Massachusetts      
New Hampshire      
Rhode Island 11    
Vermont 12    
SOUTH REGION      
East South Central Subregion      
Alabama     ü
Kentucky ü   17
Mississippi      
Tennessee      
South Atlantic Subregion      
Delaware      
Florida ü ü 17
Georgia     ü
Maryland ü ü ü
North Carolina ü   18
South Carolina     ü
Virginia ü    
West Virginia ü    
West South Central Subregion      
Arkansas ü   ü
Louisiana      
Oklahoma 10   ü
Texas ü6 ü 17
TOTAL 20 7 16

 

One explanation for this regional pattern with respect to lump sum payment diversion could be the fact that Utah and Virginia both had lump sum programs in place relatively early, i.e., 1993 in Utah in the West Region and 1995 for Virginia in the South Region. It is difficult to speculate why states in the Northeast Region have not pursued diversion programs to the extent that the other three regions have. One possible explanation is that several of the states in this region (most notably Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut) implemented comprehensive reforms prior to the implementation of PRWORA and have not changed the directions of their reforms since PRWORA was passed.

The subregional(7) configurations also presented in Table I-3 suggest a few patterns that add precision to the regional analysis. For example, in the South Region, the states with lump sum payment programs and job search requirements are clearly concentrated in the South Atlantic Subregion; this subregion includes Virginia. In addition, Kentucky, the only state with lump sum in the East South Central Subregion, borders on Virginia. To the extent that states look to neighboring states for policy innovations, Virginia's early establishment of lump sum payment diversion may explain this subregional pattern, at least with respect to lump sum payments.

In the Midwest Region, the states with lump sum and job search requirements are clearly concentrated in the West North Central Subregion - this subregion borders on the Mountain Subregion of the West Region. Given that both subregions of the West Region have the highest concentrations of lump sum and job search requirements, this proximity may explain this subregional pattern.