Families on TANF in South Carolina: Employment Assets and Liabilities. Chapter I. Introduction


The federal 1996 PRWORA legislation created the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program to replace AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children). This “welfare reform” legislation introduced major new provis ions affecting welfare families. Among these new provisions were time limits on the receipt of welfare, mandatory work requirements for welfare recipients, and the end of welfare as an entitlement. Since the welfare reform law was enacted, researchers have conducted numerous studies of families who have left welfare. The major goal of these studies has been to examine the employment status and overall well-being of families who have left the welfare rolls.
In contrast, relatively little research has been conducted on families currently on welfare to examine their characteristics and barriers to self-sufficiency. With the dramatic drop in the welfare rolls since 1996, federal and state policy makers have become increasingly interested in developing effective policies and services for families who remain on welfare.
This report presents findings on the characteristics and employment barriers of TANF recipients in South Carolina. The study included in-depth telephone interviews with 1,120 families receiving welfare benefits in South Carolina’s Family Independence (FI) Program during June 2002. In addition, administrative records data were compiled on the TANF and food stamp history of the sample. Finally, to examine health barriers among TANF families, information was gathered on emergency room visits and hospitalizations among TANF families.
This study was conducted as part of a national research grant program sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The five grantee states and the District of Columbia used a common interview instrument, developed by Mathematica Policy Research (MPR), in order to generate comparable, highquality information. The surveys in South Carolina were conducted between August and November 2002.


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