Final Synthesis Report of Findings from ASPE "Leavers" Grants. Chapter Summary


Welfare policies, economic conditions, and the characteristics of leavers themselves all likely affect leavers post-TANF experiences. However, after reviewing the range of differences across the 14 sites for these ASPE-funded leaver studies, it is difficult to derive any simple rules of thumb to aid in comparing findings across studies. The varied policies pursued by the states in which these leaver studies are conducted likely have offsetting effects on leavers outcomes. Further, while some states had unambiguously good economies (low unemployment and high incomes) many states had more mixed conditions. And leavers themselves often have a mixed set of characteristics, some of which should lead to higher levels of employment and well-being after exit while others should lead to lower levels. Thus, it is difficult to ascribe differences in average outcomes across leaver studies to observable differences between study locations. However, understanding these contextual differences may be particularly important when comparing specific outcomes for sub-groups of leavers.


7In Arizona, after a family has exhausted its 24 month allotment, the head is removed from the assistance unit, but the children continue on as a child-only unit.
8The Bay Area Study comprises Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo counties.
9For example, Arizona explicitly compares the experience of sanctioned and non-sanctioned leavers and finds that sanctioned leavers are more likely to return to welfare than non-sanctioned leavers (40 v. 33 percent).
10The states conducting leaver studies reviewed here tend to have less severe sanction policies than other states.
11Earnings disregards affect TANF benefit computations. A certain portion of a family's earnings is disregarded for the purposes of computing TANF benefits. States with higher earnings disregards reduce TANF benefits more slowly as earned income rises.
12The standard of living in a state may affect the generosity of its welfare benefits.
13This assumes that the family has no income other than earnings and the mother continues to work at the same rate for all 12 months of the year.
14A family with no children can receive welfare if, for example, the woman is pregnant.