Initial Synthesis Report of the Findings from ASPE's "Leavers" Grants. Abstract


This report summarizes results from eleven studies of former welfare recipients funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. The studies include administrative and survey data on the well-being of families who left welfare. Efforts were made to have these studies use comparable measures to facilitate cross-study comparisons.

This synthesis focuses primarily on economic well-being. It includes information on welfare leavers' employment and earnings, income and poverty status, public program participation, material hardships, and child care use. The results of the summary show a number of common findings across these study areas. Broadly speaking, among families leaving welfare, about three out of five work at any given time after exiting, and about three-quarters have worked at some point within a year of leaving welfare. When leavers work, they usually work full-time and earn $7-$8 dollars an hour. On average, working leavers make about $3,000 a quarter, and leavers' family incomes hover around the poverty line. A significant minority of leavers return to TANF in the year after initially exiting. Over one-third of leavers receive food stamps and about 2 in 5 have public health insurance coverage during the fourth quarter following their exit from welfare. Finally, many leavers experience hardships, such as not having enough food to eat, but in general they do not experience these hardships more frequently than when they were on welfare.