Two years after entering WtW, most enrollees were still receiving some form of publicly funded assistance (Exhibit V.2). Only in Baltimore County and Milwaukee were rates of receipt of such assistance lower than 70 percent.(51) By wide margins, food stamps were the most common form of government assistance; they were received by more than 60 percent of enrollees in all but the two aforementioned sites (Appendix Exhibit B.11). TANF and SSI/SSDI were the second or third most common forms of government assistance in all of the study sites except Milwaukee, where the noncustodial parents who had enrolled in the NOW program were more likely to receive Social Security retirement or survivors benefits and UI benefits than TANF.
TANF and Food Stamps. This study gathered and analyzed data on TANF and food stamp benefits from administrative files maintained by the states in which the study sites were located. These data provide a more complete picture than do survey data of changes over time in the receipt of benefits from these two programs. For each site, Exhibit V.3 presents quarterly rates of TANF and food stamp receipt calculated for the period beginning four quarters prior to program entry and ending eight quarters after program entry. Our discussion of this exhibit focuses on the interval from the quarter of program entry to the eighth quarter after entry and excludes the Milwaukee site due to its unique target population.(52)
Receipt of TANF by WtW enrollees fell sharply during the two years following program entry. In the ten study sites that are the subject of this discussion, rates of TANF receipt by WtW enrollees during the quarter of program entry ranged from a low of 38 percent in Baltimore County to a high of 100 percent in West Virginia (Exhibit V.3). Eight quarters later, the distribution of recipiency rates had shifted markedly downward, ranging from 10 percent to 64 percent. The relative reductions in rates of TANF receipt were very large in most of the study sites.(53) In seven sites Baltimore County, Boston, Chicago,(54) Ft. Worth, St. Lucie County, West Virginia, and Yakima enrollees were at least 50 percent less likely to receive TANF eight quarters after program entry than in the quarter of entry. In the remaining three sites Nashville, Philadelphia, and Phoenix the reductions ranged from 30 to 40 percent.
This was a period when families in general were leaving TANF, so the reductions in recipiency by WtW enrollees were not unusual. Administrative data for all families receiving TANF in nine of the study sites during a selected quarter in the WtW enrollment period show relative reductions in recipiency rates over the ensuing eight quarters in excess of 40 percent (Appendix Exhibit D.2.c).(55) Therefore, the reductions in TANF receipt by WtW enrollees in the study sites should not be attributed to the local WtW programs; many of the enrollees in those programs would probably have left TANF even if they had not entered WtW.
Receipt of food stamps was relatively stable as TANF recipiency plummeted following WtW entry. The reduction in the rate of receipt of food stamps between Quarter 0 and Quarter 8 averaged about 30 percent across the 10 study sites and was generally much smaller than the reduction in the receipt of TANF (Exhibit V.3).(56) The Yakima site was typical; there, the rate of TANF receipt fell by 54 percent during the two years following WtW entry, whereas the rate of receipt of food stamps fell by only 27 percent. The West Virginia site, where TANF receipt fell by 68 percent while food stamp receipt fell by only 18 percent, provides the sharpest example of the relative stability of food stamp receipt. Only in Boston were the relative reductions in the rates of receipt of these two forms of government assistance following WtW entry roughly equal at 50 percent for TANF and 53 percent for food stamps.
Any Kind of Government Assistance. Receipt of publicly funded assistance broadly defined changed little between the first and second years following program entry, despite the steep reductions in TANF receipt. The rates of receipt of any kind of government assistance, as measured by the two follow-up surveys, were roughly stable in seven of the sites, increased by 9 percentage points in St. Lucie County, and fell by 3 to 13 percentage points in Baltimore County, Chicago, and Yakima (Exhibit V.4, top panel). The mean value of all assistance from government programs was also stable during this period, rising by less than 10 percent in two sites and remaining essentially unchanged in the others (Appendix Exhibit B.13).
The receipt of any kind of government assistance changed little primarily because of patterns in receipt of food stamps and SSI or SSDI. We have seen from the administrative data that, in most of the study sites, the receipt of food stamps by enrollees remained relatively stable while their receipt of TANF fell. In a few sites, the survey data show that increases in the receipt of SSI or SSDI partially offset reductions in the receipt of TANF.(57) This pattern is exemplified by Philadelphia, where the receipt of SSI or SSDI increased by 3 percentage points during the second year after program entry (Exhibit V.4, bottom panel). Ft. Worth, St. Lucie County, and West Virginia provide additional examples of this pattern.