Initial Synthesis Report of the Findings from ASPE's "Leavers" Grants. V. Program Participation


A goal of welfare reform is to reduce families' dependency on cash assistance and make that dependent period temporary. Part of the measure of success for those who exit TANF is the ability to move toward self-sufficiency in caring for their families. As families strive toward this goal, some government benefits remain in place to aid in the transition off cash assistance. These include food stamps, Medicaid, and child care assistance. Families who have low enough incomes and meet other program requirements continue to be eligible for these benefits. In this section we address the extent to which former TANF/AFDC recipients continue to receive these benefits over time.

For some who exit TANF, the transition is not permanent, and they return to the cash assistance roles. While there has always been a percentage of families who move on and off cash assistance, examining those returning to TANF takes on increased importance in light of the time limits on benefit receipt. While none of the leavers in the areas and cohorts we examine here have reached Federal or state time limits during the study time period, returning to TANF means further depleting their limited benefit time. In this section, we first examine returns to TANF and then examine participation in other government benefit programs.