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


Receiving non-TANF government assistance can help families in their transition from welfare to work. Despite the availability of these supports, about a quarter to a third of families who left welfare returned to TANF at some point in the first year after exit. About half of leaver families receive food stamps in the first quarter after exit and two-thirds receive this benefit at some point in the year after exit. About 60 percent of families have an adult enrolled in Medicaid in the first quarter after exit. Medicaid coverage of children is generally higher, ranging from 78 to 90 percent at some point in the year after exit. Participation in both of these programs is generally lower for continuous leaver families. Several studies also report on additional sources of government assistance, such as housing assistance, disability benefits, reduced-price lunches, WIC, fuel/energy assistance, unemployment compensation, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Program participation also varies by work status and race/ethnicity. In general, workers are less likely to receive non-TANF government assistance than non-workers, and black leavers are generally more likely to return to TANF and to participate in food stamps and Medicaid than white leavers.


18Some studies report quarterly information (receipt at some point within a three-month period) and some present monthly information (receipt in a particular month). Studies reporting quarterly information will report a higher percentage than if they reported a monthly number. For example, the New York study shows that 17 percent of original exiters were receiving TANF in the twelfth month after leaving, but 19 percent received at some point in the fourth quarter after leaving. To increase comparability, we have included calculations of quarterly data from public use data files where possible. All tables in this chapter indicate whether numbers reported are monthly or quarterly.
19Recall that most of these studies require that a family remain off welfare for at least two months to be considered a leaver. This common leaver definition may contribute to the similar, low return rates across some sites in the first quarter after exit.
20Arizona and Missouri also have less then 5 year benefit time limits but allow the child's portion of the grant to continue. These families would not be included as leavers under the definition used in Arizona and no families had reached the time limit in Missouri at the time of the study.
21Food stamp receipt in the Bay Area study is the combination of non-TANF food stamp receipt and the percentage of families who have returned to TANF. These numbers are likely lower in part because they are monthly reports, not quarterly.
22Iowa shows a large increase in food stamps receipt from the third to fourth quarter, of 42 percent to 56 percent. As was the case with the large declines in fourth quarter employment data, it is unclear why such a large increase is shown here. We see no large increase for returns to TANF or, as we shall see, Medicaid participation in the fourth quarter.
23A number of states also have programs that extend public coverage to children at higher income levels through the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). While this coverage sometimes goes by names other than Medicaid, we are including it under Medicaid here.
24The health insurance results for children are discussed later in the child well-being section of this report.
25District of Columbia reports results for both time of the survey and since exit.
26As of 2000, six study areas had state EITCs: District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, and Wisconsin.
27Also, as discussed on the previous page, some of the administrative results for those coded as non-working non-recipients of food stamps may be due to difficulties in tracing certain individuals in administrative databases.
28Similar findings are reported and discussed in Lower-Basch (2000).